Homicidal Suicidal

There were two major terrorist attacks last week; one on Tuesday in Turkey and one on Friday in Bangladesh. I have learned to refrain from comment or drawing conclusions until some time has passed. The initial reports often end up being inaccurate. One of the features of American news coverage of these events is the talking heads trying to give us “insight” into the unfolding events. Two words resonated from a comment I heard and I’d like to talk about them today.

As an aside, it seems to me that Americans are becoming somewhat numb to terrorist attacks and mass shootings. They have become too commonplace. I actually had to do a bit of research to make sure the Turkish attack took place last calendar week. Considering the target was the country I have long held is the key to the future of the Middle East that is saying a lot.

One of the talking heads, (I honestly can’t remember who or I’d credit him by name), said in many of these instances we are dealing with perpetrators who are, “Homicidal and Suicidal”. That was simultaneously simple, succinct, correct and profound! It illustrates the difficulty of the challenge these situations present law enforcement with.

In most hostage negotiations the perpetrator wants to live. Their original objective was robbery or something similar (think about a bank robbery turned hostage situation). To our mythical bank robber the objective was money and the bank patrons are initially viewed as leverage that soon become annoyances. Twenty years in prison (and the chance of getting off on a technicality), look a lot better than death to them. Specially trained law enforcement personnel can often negotiate surrender. In the case of the terrorist their goals are murder and martyrdom. They view survival and certainly surrender as failure.

These terrorist incidents are sure to continue, at least in the near term future. The targets will be global. Law enforcement has a difficult task. Society will bear the cost of training and equipping them for incidents that we hope never happen.

Terrorists by their very definition are outside the bounds of normal sanity. Remember the word “homicidal” and even more so “suicidal” as you evaluate these instances and judge the actions of the responders.

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