Ronen Bergman wrote a column for the New York Times yesterday about the decline in suicide bombers (they’re running out of volunteers) and how terrorists may soon train dogs to carry bombs that will be detonated by remote control.
Seven years after 9/11, it may well be that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of suicide terrorism and a shift toward advanced technologies that will enable jihadist bombers to carry out attacks and live to fight another day.
Avoiding suicide has become the major topic on Al Qaeda’s two main Web platforms for discussing the technological aspects of jihad, the forums Ekhlaas and Firdaws. “Those overpowering Satan’s seduction are few, and we sacrifice those few since they may win us Paradise,” read a posting on both sites this summer on the subject of “vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.” It continued: “Yet, keeping them alive is beneficial for us, since every one of them is tantamount to an entire people. So we must find a way to save those lives and harness that zeal.”
…in a document posted last month at Maarek, the most sophisticated jihadist forum for discussing explosives manufacturing, a prolific technical expert calling himself Abu Abdullah al-Qurashi suggested training dogs to recognize American troops’ uniforms, then releasing other dogs carrying improvised explosive devices toward American soldiers so the bombs can be detonated from a safe distance. The author begins with the following words: “I.E.D. operations, but this time, with dogs. Yes, dogs! Brothers, some may find my words fantastic. But, believe me, we should better let a dog die, than let a Lion of Islam die!”
Another hurdle Western forces may face is that a new emphasis on remote execution would significantly change the profiles of the terrorists. The uneducated, enthusiastic youths from weak economic backgrounds who have formed the bulk of Al Qaeda’s followers — and whom our intelligence services have spent a decade identifying and neutralizing — will give way to a new type of activists: electricians and robotics experts will join the qualified chemists who make the explosives in order to carry out non-suicide attacks.
I expect we’ll soon be hearing about a sudden decline in the dog population in Iraq and Afghanistan.