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Terrorism: Suicide Attacks

Between 1981 and 2006, terrorists carried out more than 1,200 suicide attacks around the world, constituting only 4% of all attacks but 32% of all terrorism-related deaths. Approximately 1,000 of these attacks occurred in Iraq, IsraelAfghanistanPakistan or Sri Lanka. From 1989 to 2008, Palestinian terrorists have carried out no fewer than 250 suicide attacks in Israel.

During 2014 there were no suicide bombing attacks carried out in Israel, despite the international occurence of such attacks increasing by 94% from 2013's numbers.  The Israeli Shin Bet security Agency claimed in August 2015 that they had prevented 17 suicide attacks against Israeli citizens so far during that year. During the first seven months of 2015, the Shin Bet claimed to have foiled approximately 111 terror attacks.

Modern suicide bombings was introduced by Hezbollah in 1983 in Lebanon. As the group gained international notoriety for its "achievements," the tactic spread widely among terrorist groups. The LTTE, "Tamil Tigers," began carrying out suicide bombings in Sri Lanka in 1987 and perpetrated over 300 such attacks. In 2000, Chechnyan militants fighting the Russian army joined the cadre of suicide bombers. Al-Qaeda, founded by Osama bin Laden, was responsible for two suicide bombings against U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the organization scored the largest terrorist attack in history on September 11, 2001, when 3,000 people were killed in simulataneous attacks with hijacked airplanes in Washington DC, New York and Pennsylvania.

In 1993, the Palestinian terror group Hamas carried out its first official suicide attack. Between September 2000 and October 2006, Palestinian terror groups - including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and others - carried out 167 clearly identified suicide bomber attacks, with 51 other types of suicide attack.

Since the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, there have been more than 350 suicide attacks in Afghanistan while there were 1,003 documented suicide attacks in Iraq.

For most of the organisations who have use suicide attack tactics, the common denominator is their success in causing large-scale casualties and negatively influencing public morale, while at the same time entirely failing to change regimes or to force their governments to surrender to their strategic demands.

Sources: Issacharoff, Avi. “Israel foiled 17 suicide attacks so far this year, Shin Bet says,” Times of Israel, (August 12, 2015)
The Review (September 2001);
Ha'aretz, (September 28, 2001);