Document Type

Book Chapter


On 12 October 2002, a man detonated his suicide belt in the Patty's bar in Kuta on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. As people fled out into the street in panic, another suicide bomber detonated a van loaded with nearly 1000 kg of explosives in the middle of the quickly forming crowd. The explosion and subsequent fire killed an overall number of 202 people, marking the ninth-deadliest attack in the history of terrorism. Perhaps even more significantly, the attack marked the arrival of modern suicide terrorism into Southeast Asia. This development is not surprising. In recent years, suicide bombings have become the most influential and fastest spreading terrorist tactic in the world. Since the commencement of the modern practice of suicide terrorism in 1981, there have been over 600 suicide bombings carried out by at least 30 organizations in 29 different countries, a list that is likely to continue growing. This is especially alarming given the fact that acts of suicide terrorism are extremely lethal: of the 50 deadliest terrorist attacks in the last 15 years, at least 72 per cent have involved suicide delivery. This chapter will discuss the nature and importance of suicide terrorism, with a specific focus on Southeast Asia.