Author: Christoph Reuter
Publisher: Manas Publications
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170492327
What kind of people are suicide bombers? How do they justify their actions? In this meticulously researched and sensitively written book, journalist Christoph Reuter argues that popular views of these young men and women-as crazed fanatics or brainwashed automatons-fall short of the mark. In many cases these modern-day martyrs are well-educated young adults who turn themselves into human bombs willingly and eagerly-to exact revenge on a more powerful enemy, perceived as both unjust and oppressive. Suicide assassins are determined to make a difference, for once in their lives, no matter what the cost. As Reuter’s many interviews with would-be martyrs, their trainers, friends, and relatives reveal, the bombers are motivated more by how they expect to be remembered-as heroic figures-than by religion-infused visions of a blissful life to come.
Reuter, who spent eight years researching the book, moves from the broken survivors of the children’s’ suicide brigades in the Iran-Iraq war f the 1980s, to the war-torn Lebanon of Hezbollah, to Israeli-occupied Palestinian land, and to regions as disparate as Sri Lanka, Chechnya, and Kurdistan. H tells a disturbing story of the modern globalization of suicide bombing-orchestrated, as his own investigations have helped to establish, by the shadowy al-Qaeda network and unintentionally enabled y wrong-headed policies of Western governments. In a final, hopeful chapter, Reuter points to today’s post-revolutionary, post-Khomeini Iran, where a new social environment enounces the horrific practice in the very place where it was enthusiastically embraced just decades ago.
We are as yet a long way from fully understanding the various manifestations of suicide terrorism and its motives, but My Life is a Weapon is an important contribution, Reuter has traveled for years through Arab countries, the Middle East and Central Asia and is able to talk more or less freely to people and read texts usually not accessible to the average foreign correspondent. His account of suicide terrorism is, to the best of my knowledge, the first (of its kind) in any language.
-Walter Lagueur, Times Literary Supplement
Christoph Reuter’s modern history of suicide bombing helps put today’s headlines into context. As Reuter’s assessment makes clear, suicide-killers are not irrational fanatics, but cost-effective weapons employed by rational organizations. Reuter traveled around the world to talk with
martyr’s families and their tutors, reporting what he found in lucid, often moving pross. The world would be a far safar place if our leaders were to heed his wise words of advice.
-Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill