'Nature of suicide bomber is being transformed'

ABU DHABI — The nature of the suicide bomber has changed totally in recent years, while the number of countries witnessing such bombings has escalated.

By Tim Newbold

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Published: Tue 3 Jan 2006, 9:34 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:52 PM

This is according to the head of a security consultancy, who said recently that the stereotypical image of a suicide bomber has transformed beyond all recognition.

Contrary to the historic perception that bombers are usually out-of-work with little hope in life, they are often employed and educated.

A recent example was the four men who struck London on July 7 last year. They were educated, middle class British citizens, rather than desperate outcasts.

There is also a growing trend of terrorist groups using female and child suicide bombers, Charles Mallice, managing director of International Security Advisory Team, said. Women are less suspect, less liable to be closely searched and can conceal devices more easily by, for example, pretending to be pregnant.

The Tamil Tigers, a separatist group in Sri Lanka, have a list of suicide bombers ready to attack, of which 44 per cent are female, Mallice said. Most of these opt for suicide bombing after going through a particular ordeal such as rape. Victims of rape cannot get married in some societies.

Child suicide bombers are also on the increase. Their reasons vary from not wanting to go to school to trying to prove themselves to friends and family, believing that their death will be martyrdom, not suicide.

As the character of bombers has changed, some 30 countries have witnessed attacks by bombers willing to kill themselves, as well as others, in the past 15 years. This represents a huge rise in the number of places which are the scene of suicide attacks, Mallice said.

Mallice, whose consultancy has an office in Abu Dhabi and specialises in advising and training companies and government bodies, and protection for VIPs, said that corporations and other bodies need to boost security in response to the heightened terrorist threat. "Due to the ever growing threat of terrorist attacks against commercial or government targets, it is highly important for companies and organisations to show a higher security profile," he said.

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