Suicide attacks have become the defining act of political violence of our age. From New York City to Baghdad, from Sri Lanka to Israel, few can doubt that they are a pervasive and terrifying feature of an increasing number of violent conflicts. Since 1981, approximately thirty organizationsthroughout the world - some of them secular and others affiliated to radical Islam - have carried out more than 500 suicide missions. Although a tiny fraction of the overall number of guerrilla and terrorist attacks occurring in the same period, the results have proved infinitely more lethal. This book is the first to shed real light on these extraordinary acts, and provide answers to the questions we all ask. Are these the actions of aggressive religious zealots and unbridled, irrational radicals or is there a logic driving those behind them? Are their motivations religious or has Islamprovided a language to express essentially political causes? How can the perpetrators remain so lucidly effective in the face of certain death? And do these disparate attacks have something like a common cause? For more than two years, this team of internationally distinguished scholars has pursued an unprejudiced inquiry, investigating organizers and perpetrators alike of this extraordinary social phenomenon. Close comparisons between a whole range of cases raise challenging further questions: If suicidemissions are so effective, why are they not more common? If killing is what matters, why not stick to 'ordinary' violent means? Or, if dying is what matters, why kill in the process? Making Sense of Suicide Missions contains a wealth of original information and cutting-edge analysis which furthers our understanding of this chilling feature of the contemporary world in radically new and unexpected ways.