Thursday, April 30, 2009

Female Suicide Bombers

Now don't be too shocked, but there is, actually, more going on in the world than Swine Flu (are we still allowed to call it that?) and the economic crisis. I know, shocking. And as I have been trying to search for some of this "other" news, I came across a series of interesting articles that led to more articles and soon I was reading about a topic I had never really thought of at length before: female suicide bombers.

I think that most Westerners have this image in their head of a terrorist. Something like bin Laden, hiding in a dirt hole, with machine guns everywhere and possibly fangs. Chances are, you are thinking of an extremist male. However, Lindsey O'Rourke of the University of Chicago has extensively researched the topic and discovered that, among groups that permit female suicide bombers, that females make up 15% of attackers. That is WAY higher a percentage than I expected. I figured maybe there had been just a couple ever, until I read that last week alone there were 2 female suicide bombers in Iraq. And that's just Iraq. Women pose a special threat since, as second class citizens, they are under much less suspicion and they often wear flowing robes that could allow for weapons to be easily concealed.

O'Rourke also said that women "were responsible for an overwhelming 65 percent of assassinations; one in every five women who committed a suicide attack did so with the purpose of assassinating a specific individual, compared with one in every 25 for the male attackers." These women mean business. They aren't just blowing themselves up and destroying some property and civilians along the way; they have a target, they are assassinating with a vengeful purpose.

One point to note is that most of the female attackers that get publicity are those who were later found to be mentally disabled. And, true, that does happen and it is horrendous that an organization would be evil enough to be fine with saying, "Sure, let's talk this disabled woman into killing herself to further our cause. She's worthless anyway and we're probably doing her a favor." Like I said, evil. And it does happen, but these cases are the extreme minority and most female suicide bombers are completely aware of what they are doing and, interestingly enough, most of them are not doing it for religious reasons, but for secular reasons (like showing their opposition of foreign military occupation), and many of them are not even Muslim, but include Hindus and Christians. Talk about blowing your stereotypes out of the water.

Honestly, there are such better ways to get your point across successfully. If someone is trying to blow me and my home up because they oppose my policies, I can tell you that I'm not about to go sit down at some peaceful talks with their cronies- not a chance. This isn't really getting them anywhere, in my opinion. But I did think it was thought-provoking to consider the women who are involved in terrorism. This is obviously something that is beginning to stew, not in just extremist Muslim men, but is a practice that is beginning to pervade the whole culture of the Middle East with little signs of slowdown. I daresay that there is little hope that the next generation will not have been so exposed to suicide bombings as a common occurrence that they will not be perpetuated as an acceptable means of displaying rebellion. I am starting to fear what will happen as the US troops pull out since, although it appears to be what needs to happen for the safety of our soldiers, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi Extremist, recently ridiculed President Obama and called his plan to withdraw American forces by 2011 an “implied avowal of defeat.” Likewise, an Iraqi civilian lamented, “America was not able to finish them off. How can our forces do it?” Despair seems to drip from his words and I hope that Iraqi forces really will be as self-sustaining as we are laboring to make them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Division I Elite 8- Women's Rugby

Alright, I just have to brag a minute. So I play collegiate rugby. No, wait, I am actually now a retired collegiate rugby player...still getting used to that. So after all my years of play and an incredible season this year, our team (BYU) made it into the Elite 8 of Division I- such a huge honor and achievement! If only BYU football could be so lucky...don't get your hopes up- that will probs NEVER happen. Those fat woosies with full-body pads...don't get me started. At any rate, we had a couple of games this weekend to finish out the season in Florida and it was great. We fought hard and I tackled up a storm for my last game. You can actually watch our final game on I'm famous! So I just wanted to let you all know. Thanks for everyone who has supported me and my team over the years. We are still trying to pay for those Florida plane tickets, so if you can, will you please make a modest donation at which will go directly to the team being able to pay off the credit card debt we have incurred from our travels. (There should be a little thing to click on the left that says "Donate To The Club".) We need your assistance today. Thanks!

Enjoy the game!! I'm white #1, by the way, and I have short hair now, so look for some little blond ponytails. Hopefully this link works, otherwise go to, click on the Media Center on the left of the page and you should be able to find the 2 halves of our game, labeled Brigham Young VS Penn State. USA Rugby Media Center.

Oh, and the photo is of me when a Penn State girl attempted to stiff-arm and side step me, but I instead grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground! So there! :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Security & Prosperity

Thought this was interesting. It came from the Security Update section of the Jerusalem Center and it was posted when I was living there. It has been sitting on my desktop, lost among the syllabi, photos, research, and assignments, but now I have rediscovered it and will finally throw it out there.

July 22, 2008

There was another incident today in West Jerusalem in which a Palestinian used a bulldozer to attach Israelis along a major street in that part of the city. The attack tool place on King David Street, a major street in the western (Jewish) part of the city that runs past the King David Hotel (the best known hotel in the city). The attack, along the lines of one that occurred two weeks ago, wounded 16 (1 person seriously; the others had only slight injuries). The attacker was killed by a policeman. The students have been in Jordan and were not out and about in the city when the attack occurred. Upon their return, the security situation will be reevaluated with regard to restrictions, if any, on travel within Jerusalem...

I wrote about this while there, very early on. I believe it was the first of the two bulldozer attacks that several terrorist groups took responsibility for immediately, even though it was just some angry guy that did it. My point was that it was funny how even the extremists don't know what's going on among themselves and they can't get it together enough to figure out which of their constituents are doing what.

At any rate, there were a slew of these "incidents" as our security personnel called them while I was living in Jerusalem. And surprisingly, none of them really affected us- the city was accustomed to them, and pretty soon, so were we.

Everyday I am grateful for the freedoms and the privileges that I have, however, I want to make a not that the US does not actually corner the market on happiness. People can adapt to a great many things. When I first moved to Australia, it was suddenly apparent to me that, yes, these people have freedoms, they vote, they have probably less governmental corruption than us, they have local civic leaders who care about their needs, they have a surplus of means, they have safety, security, and happiness. For some reason, this was a slight shock to me. I remember being indoctrinated as I wrote this paper in 5th grade about how America is the only country with so many freedoms, blah blah brainwashing blah.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is try not to adopt the imperialistic attitude that we are the best and that we must convert everyone to our superior western ways. Respect culture.

With that said, more will be coming about our moral responsibility to contribute to foreign philanthropy...stay tuned...

(These are Aussie photos- see, they have school, jobs, and joy, too!)