Suicide bombers are not all the same. There are actually two types of suicide bombers in jihadi groups, the istishhad and the Inghimasi. The Inghimasi are a specialized suicide fighter and highly revered among ISIS’ other fighters.
Inghimasi means to “become immersed “, in other words a fighter commits to a no-return operation if the situation calls for it. For example, the inghimasi typically uses weapons such as handguns to inflict but he also wears an explosive belt that is activated only when he is out of ammunition or in danger of being captured.
In addition, they participate in a form of taqiyya (deception) by blending in to their current environment. They wear similar clothing to their enemy, shave their beards and trim their hair.
The inghimasi is thought to be the most important fighter in ISIS. It is also a voluntary position. They fill out a form that allows them to choose between a regular fighter, suicide bomber or an inghimasi.
The inghimasi tend to work in groups are usually on foot. In the battlefield, the inghimasi are used mostly inducing chaos by shocking enemy troops and weakening their defenses.
Inghimasi, similar to the istishhads, receive considerable praise and admiration for their bravery and sacrifice. The majority of times they have videos made before their mission in which they discuss their anticipation for Jannah (paradise). In some, countries their our posters plastered in town and calendars made.
The inghimasi have infiltrated Europe , as evidenced by the attacks in Paris and in Turkey airport. For instance, French law enforcement reported that two of the ISIS terrorists at Bataclan did not intend to die there, hence they were inghimasi. They were killed prior to detonating their belts. This was the first application of inghimasi in France.
ISIS deems this form of attack effective for three reasons: 1) instant impact and significant media coverage, 2) easier to execute compared to creating powerful, concealed explosive device, and finally their targets tend to be areas with large crowds to maximize the death toll.
Determining the why suicide bombing is complicated. There are a myriad of reasons such as emotions related to pain, trauma or loss, painful humiliation, vengeance, hopelessness, and other negative aspects.
The positive also can add to the motivation- the reward of paradise, 72 virgins, 70 members of family get in to paradise and many times the families receive subsidies for having a child who was a martyr. Even cultural norms play a part with certain bombers, believing that’s their obligation to be a shaheed (martyr).
Here’s a letter from a suicide bomber a few days before:
(Reuters) – “My dear family, please forgive me,” reads the handwritten letter discarded in the dusty halls of an Islamic State training compound in eastern Mosul.
“Don’t be sad and don’t wear the black clothes (of mourning). I asked to get married and you did not marry me off. So, by God, I will marry the 72 virgins in paradise.”
At the end of the day , how one defines themselves is central for explaining their mental states, their feelings, and their behaviors. A negative perspective can have serious consequences on self-esteem in certain individuals.
Unfortunately, ISIS tends to offer a distorted ideology with a strong moral component, meaning and an optimistic and collaborative vision of the future (with their apocalyptic narrative).
Many terrorist organizations treat their suicide bombers as a special group. Reinforcing the self-esteem and importance of the bombers.
These suicide missions often reflect a power imbalance, the weaker side incorporating this asymmetrical tactic. Hence, the weakening of ISIS might portend future attacks. Let’s keep vigilant and be safe.