Instruments of Violence or Unwitting Pawns: A Triangulative Analysis of the Recent Phenomenon of Female Suicide Bombers, with a Focus on Al Qaeda in Iraq

Eboni Blenman


Making the ultimate sacrifice, suicide bombers give their last breaths in the hopes of advancing various political, religious and social causes. Traditionally, the discussion of suicide bombers has focused exclusively on the capabilities and actions of males. However, with the emergence of females as suicide bombers in the late 20th Century, there has been heightened interest in the roles females play as terrorists and also as martyrs. Females have emerged as an especially potent and deadly force in the Iraqi conflict claiming the lives of hundreds through their calculated attacks. Utilizing the Rational Choice Theory, this paper examines the unique internal and societal factors which lead many Iraqi women to become martyrs. Furthermore, this paper examines the tangible and psychological effects of these attacks as well as their global implications for terrorism. Relying on scholarly data collected through the document analysis technique, augmented with expert interviews, this paper tests the hypothesis that while female suicide bombers play a crucial role in the Iraqi insurgency, their decisions to become martyrs are often marred with coercion and their contributions in conflict have not served as impetuses for social or political change. A triangulative methodology, which combines both qualitative and quantitative approaches, was employed to analyze the data collected to test the preceding hypothesis. The results yielded appear to validate the hypothesis.


Rational Choice Theory; Terrorism; Suicide Operations;Female Suicide Bombers

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