Missing their Mark: The IRA's Proxy Bomb Campaign

John Horgan, M Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper, through a discussion of the IRA’s proxy bomb campaigns, challenges the way martyrdom is and has been constructed, and forces us to examine terrorist events without preconceived notions. It is important to note that when we witness an event that on the surface appears to be an instance of martyrdom, the reality might be far more complex. Part of the problem has been the current inductive logic associated with the study of terrorism, in which attacks are a given and experts will engage in a psychological autopsy to trace perpetrators’ intentions and motives after the fact. If they are religious, the assumption is that this act was one of self-sacrifice for a religious cause. However, this is not always the case. In this paper, we argue that it is necessary to question the intent of the action rather than assume that the event is automatically an act of martyrdom. While attacks in Kabul or Baghdad may appear as deliberate jihadi operations by the Taliban or by Al Qaeda in Iraq, our investigation has determined that a portion of such attacks are the product of coercion and not martyrdom in the traditional sense although observers may understand them to be martyrdom operations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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