Analytical Failures: Beirut Barracks Bombings, 1983
The central thesis of this article is that the suicidal terrorism has its strategic coercive logic as well as, for instance, sanctions, and the attack in Beirut in the 1983rd year is not the exception. Scholars argue that a suicidal attack is the most aggressive kind of terrorism because it means that the possibility of losing the supporters (the support base is often decreasing when their organization commits serious crimes, as happened with Red Brigades) does not restrict these terrorists anymore.Three types of terrorist attacks exist:
Demonstrative (avoiding serious harm to keep sympathetic, focusing on the image instead of the death)
Destructive (medium level, to coerce enemies and to mobilize supporters)
Suicidal (to punish and to coerce)
The primary motivation of Beirut attackers was to punish and to coerce, according to the logic of the theory of terrorism. One of the bombers is known, and he was Ismail Ascari from Iran. Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement claimed responsibility. The larger issue was the presence of foreign peacekeepers (American and French) in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War (just officially, in practice the causes were much more complicated).
In 1983, two suicidal attackers died taking with them 305 victims in the Beirut airport. Victims were American (241 dead) and French (58 dead) peacekeepers. Six civilians also died. Barracks were destroyed whereas the infrastructure of the Beirut Airport was not damaged, which proves that only the peacekeepers were the target. The attack happened at the early morning when the majority of American and French marines were sleeping, so it was quite surprising. Attackers hijacked two American water trucks and drove into the Beirut camp under the guise of the civilian worker, and the Marines had recognized the diversionist too late when he was too far in the camp. Peacekeepers tried to stop the driver by the fire, but they were not allowed to keep guns loaded because of their law status, so the critical time was missed. A few days later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that the bomb was so massive and powerful that it would have killed hundreds of people even if the truck was delayed by the servants before it reached barracks. The most notable thing in the event actions is that terrorists orientated towards Americans much more than Frenches because two bombs were different: the more powerful was for American department.
Before it happened, the Civil War in Lebanon had radicalized rapidly because of the Israeli invasion and Syrian interference. That war was almost the first rise of Palestinian hitmen and Iranian extremists, and the attack in Beirut was one of their first performances against democratic non-Muslim states.
In a whole, attackers managed to achieve surprise and make people disoriented as a psychological impact. In addition to the causes of the effect of surprise which are described below, it was in the 1983 year when the wave of the terroristic attack had just begun. This wave is …