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"Military suicide" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Suicide in the military.

A suicide attack is a violent attack in which the attacker intends to kill others or cause great destruction and expects to die in the process. Between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks occurred around the world, constituting 4% of all terrorist attacks but 32% (14,599 people) of all terrorism-related deaths. 90% of these attacks occurred in Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Its primary use is as a weapon of psychological warfare intended to affect a larger public audience.

Although the use of suicide attacks has been prevalent throughout history, particularly with the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of World War II, suicide attacks gained global notoriety on October 23, 1983. Suicide attackers targeted the United States Marine Corps and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings during the Lebanese Civil War. The suicide attack resulted in the death of 299 Multinational Forces (MNF), including 241 United States servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. The success of this attack undoubtedly played a significant role in the attractiveness of suicide attacks to terrorist and insurgency organizations worldwide. More recently, the number of suicide attacks has grown significantly, from an average of less than five a year in the 1980s to 180 a year in 2001-2005, primarily due to bombings in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion.

The motivation of suicide attackers is disputed. Robert Pape attributes over 90% of attacks prior to the Iraq Civil War to a goal of withdrawal of occupying forces. Anthropologist Scott Atran argues that since 2004 the overwhelming majority of bombers have been motivated by the ideology of Islamist martyrdom, and these attacks have been much more numerous. In just two years, 2004–2005, there were more suicide attacks, "roughly 600, than in Pape's entire sample."


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