08 March 2008

Terrorism: Whodunnit?

The gunman who killed the yeshiva students in Jerusalem had a name. It was Ala Abu Dahim. It remains unclear whether he acted alone, as Israeli police initially suspected, or as a terrorist foot-soldier. Reuters reported that Hamas claimed responsibility, but this source says the organization has repudiated the claim as a piece of disinformation.

My hunch remains that Dahim was a lone wolf, not because the cops say so, but because he was a shooter instead of a suicide bomber. There was reportedly a claim of responsibility from a newly-minted organization named after the leader who was recently killed by the Israelis. If Dahim belonged to this group, my guess would be that it's a small, relatively egalitarian outfit. Again, I base this on what I presume to be the psychology of the gunman as opposed to the suicide bomber. The latter is somebody else's weapon, whether he thinks he's Allah's or his handler's from Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Aqsa or whomever else. He is the ultimate passive-aggressive, acting out of a fanatic sense of duty to a larger cause. The shooter, I still suspect, is more autonomous. He acts for his reasons as well as if not more than for larger purposes. He requires the personal satisfaction of seeing his victims die, while the suicide bomber is apparently satisfied by the dying thought that he has done his duty to his people or his god.

The other possibility, of course, is that Dahim and/or his pals had neither the means or the knowledge to put together a suicide belt, but this possibility is too prosaic to pursue further.

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