Coming on the heels of attacks by two female suicide bombers that had killed 39 people in Moscow just hours before, Det. Ebrahim Ashabi's presentation this week on the advent of female suicide bombers was as timely as it was informative.
In his seminar at POLICE-TREXPO West, the Long Beach (Calif.) PD detective discussed how, despite their only recently coming into their own, female suicide bombers have proven a growing threat to the world community.
Part of their success lies in their ability to exploit conventional stereotypes of women - the impression that the fairer sex tends to be more soft and maternal, and less a conspicuous threat. When augmented with further accoutrements of deceit - faux pregnancies; booby-trapped baby carriages - they possess an ability to insinuate themselves further into densely populated target areas than their male counterparts and inflict ever greater degrees of lethality.
Female suicide bombers have proven effective in different countries, but their presence as a disrupting influence in the Middle East is but a relatively recent advent. Ironically, the same cultural influences that have prohibited women from enjoying any status in many Sharia-dominated cultures have fostered their willingness to become suicide bombers: It is the only act that they believe can at once put them on equal footing with men and ensure them some promise of prominence in the hereafter.
Ashabi believes that in a majority of cases, female suicide bombers can be defeated. Domestically, this will only occur when Americans recognize their threats and embrace a paradigm that's prepared to confront them. He points to Israel's success in mitigating such threats through its adoption of safety checkpoints and a determination to have an educated public that is trained to recognize threats and confront them.
By encouraging the screening of people arriving at "soft targets" and educating the public of what threats to look for, bombers can be effectively stopped before they are in a position to carry our their intentions.
Det. Ashabi is optimistic when it comes to the prospect of citizens learning how to take the appropriate precautions when it comes to suicide bombers. He is less optimistic when it comes to our country's willingness to take the appropriate steps to foster that understanding. He cites the Council on Islamic Relations' (CAIR) willingness to sue people who speak about the potential threats posed by domestic threats as a huge inhibiter, and the hubris of law enforcement officials unwilling to confront such organizations as being among the most prominent factors.