Research Project

Courtney Davenport, Political Science

Advisor: Eric Davis, Political Science

Conventional wisdom in the post September 11th world has it that terrorism is caused by Islamic fundamentalism. Suicide terrorism, in particular, has become prominent in the global sphere as the deadliest form of terror. Although suicide attacks amounted to just 3 percent of all terrorist incidents between 1980 and 2003, they account for 48 percent of all terrorism fatalities. The perpetuation of this narrative by Western media has largely foreclosed the possibility of other explanations. This research brings attention to some of the other motivating factors behind suicide terrorism aside from “religiosity.” Rather, my research suggests that nationalism, religion, and gender are major factors driving participation in these deadly attacks. I conclude that without properly understanding the reasons for participation in such acts, we will never be able to stop its rise.