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Terror in Europe

Psychology Of Suicide Bombers — Inside The Kamikaze Mind

Researchers across the globe are trying to understand what drives the sense of martyrdom to which terrorists aspire. Complicating the explanations is the fact that these killers have a wide range of psychological profiles.

A Japanese WWII kamikaze and an al-Qaeda suicide bomber
A Japanese WWII kamikaze and an al-Qaeda suicide bomber
Frédéric Joignot

PARIS — "They detonated." This expression is being used increasingly in newspapers and on television to describe the acts of suicide killers. What happens in the minds of these people who wrap themselves in explosive belts to shed as much blood as possible? What drives these young people born in France to commit such criminal offenses before killing themselves? Since the 1981 suicide attack against the Iraq embassy in Beirut (61 dead), which marked the beginning of a series of suicide operations, battalions of researchers around the world have been trying to understand what drives these self-destructive terrorists.

In France, the journal Etudes sur la mort (Studies on death) dedicated an entire issue to the subject. Italian psychiatrist Antonio Preti explains that "suicide with hostile intent" has a long history. It's a form of immolation in which the suicide attacker destroys those he deems responsible for his decline. It's the only way he can find to take revenge. It's the violence of a desperate man.

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Firefighters work to put out the fire in a mall hit by a Russian missile strike

Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Officials fear the death toll will continue to climb after two Russian missiles hit the Armstor shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kramenchuk. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, more than 1,000 people were inside the mall Monday at the time of the attack.

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For the moment, the death toll is at 18 with 36 people missing and at least 59 injured, reported a regional official on Tuesday. The search and rescue operations continue under the rubble.

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