Suicide-attacks are one of the most important aspects of modern conflicts. According to Tosini between December 1981 (date of the first suicide-attack) and December 2010 date of the end of the scholar’s research there have been 2.713 suicide-attacks worldwide, which have caused about 28.000 deaths. Afghanistan and Iraq play the biggest role: between March 2003 and May 2010 there have been 1321 attacks of this kind in Iraq which have caused more than 13.000 deaths. Since 1981 Afghanistan and Iraq have been reaching 68% of all suicide-bombings and 55% of all casualties together. These figures show how big an impact the suicide tactics had during the Iraq war, in addition suicide tactics continues to have a main role in Islamic State warfare: for example in January 2015 alone we can count 35 suicide-attacks in Iraq. Moreover, suicide-attacks played an important role in other conflicts such as the ones in Lebanon, Israel, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Turkey, Afghanistan, and worldwide attacks can be linked to the global organization of al-Qaeda. Objectives, political and war situations are very different in these countries, thus the various features of suicide bombings make finding a single explanation for this phenomenon difficult.
Andrea Beccaro, Ph.D, is DAAD Fellow at Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Freie Universität in Berlin.
Claudio Bertolotti, Ph.D, is Senior Research fellow at the Italian Military Centre for Strategic Studies (CeMiSS).