Suicide terrorism has become so commonplace that it is easy to overlook how relatively new and suddenly popular the phenomenon is. Between the end of World War II and the Iranian revolution, there were no suicide attacks in the world. Yet only months after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini solidified power and formed the Pasdaran and Basij, suicide attacks began to appear in conflicts involving Shiites (Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war) and then took root among Palestinian Sunni groups. It eventually became the preferred tactic of Islamist terror organizations.
Khomeini selected specific passages from the Qur’an and hadith (canonical collections of Muhammad’s alleged sayings and actions) to craft his suicidal version of radical Islam. His two-part rhetorical plan necessitated convincing Muslims that suicide is not suicide and that death is not death.
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