STRATEGY: SUICIDE ATTACKS
By Doug DuBrin, an English/History teacher and editor/ writer.
On Saturday, the Iraqi military resorted to an extreme measure to counter
the assault of coalition forces -a suicide attack near the city of Najaf
in which four U.S. soldiers were killed (see NewsHour
missions are not unique to the current war in Iraq. During World War II,
Japanese kamikaze ("divine wind") fighter pilots would purposely
attempt to crash their bomb-loaded planes into American ships. (More information
Palestinian extremists from organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad
have launched suicide attacks against military and civilian targets in
Israel and in disputed areas occupied by Israel. These Palestinians consider
themselves to be martyrs when they strap explosives to their bodies and
detonate them in public places.
In the largest
suicide attack ever, on September 11, 2001, al-Qaida operatives hijacked
and crashed passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York City
and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, killing nearly
all suicide attacks but the techniques, targets and the impact have been
List of questions regarding the article.
to National Standards
Begin by discussing the overview. You may want to highlight the level
of desperation that has inspired suicide missions throughout history.
have the students carefully read the Online
Newshour article either independently or in pairs.
have the students work in pairs or small groups to address the following
questions: (see below)
discuss the answers as a class. Since the subject matter of this activity
could be seen as disturbing, you probably should allow time in a subsequent
class (or classes) for follow-up discussion.
were the goals of the Kamikaze pilots different from those of the Iraqi
sort of individual do you think is chosen to carry out a suicide mission?
- Why might
a person want to be considered for such a mission?
impact might attacks like this have on public support for the war?
militants are still fighting Israel; the Japanese lost WWII; are suicide
attacks an effective military tactic or an act of desperation?
you imagine a cause that you would be willing to die for?
the students to read the two Online Newshour sements concerning suicide
missions -one is from the Palestinian
vantage, the other from the Israeli
have them summarize the perspectives from each side, either in essay
or outline form.
them next list the political aims or goals for both the Palestinians
and the Israelis.
ask the students to analyze how those goals have clashed and have therefore
resulted in extraordinary violence and hardship in the region.
Council of the Social Studies
For detailed explanations, please consult
Standard 6: Power, Authority, and Governance
Standard 9: Global Connections
Standard 1: History
Standard 3: Civics and Government
Doug DuBrin taught Social Studies and Literature at the Arizona School
for the Arts for 4 years. Before that he taught at the Near North Montessori
School and the Monroe Middle School in Rochester, NY. He has a BA from
the University of Rochester and a MA from the University of Illinois at
To find out more about opportunities to contribute
to this site, contact Leah Clapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.