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THE PATH TO PARADISE: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and Their Dispatchers

Anat Berko

Nonfiction, 2004

Suicide bombers are often compared to smart bombs. From their dispatchers’ point of view, they are highly effective, inexpensive weapons, with no need for technological development. Suicide bombers are in fact smarter than smart bombs because they can choose their own targets and can react to circumstances on the ground, changing their target or their timing in an instant to ensure maximum damage, destruction, and death. Of course, unlike smart bombs, suicide bombers think and feel. They have histories, stories, beliefs, and desires. In short, they have an inner world. Exploring the inner world of suicide bombers has been the focus of Anat Berko’s research for years. What are their thought processes? Do male bombers really believe that death will transport them to a paradise inhabited by virgins? What are female bombers promised in the hereafter? Berko also explores the world of those who “drop the smart bomb”—the dispatchers. Who are the people who persuade others to go calmly to their horrific deaths?

To learn about the inner world of suicide bombers and their dispatchers, Berko entered Israel’s highest-security prison cells and conducted intensive and extensive interviews with male and female suicide bombers who had failed their missions, as well as their dispatchers— including former Hamas spiritual and operative leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (later assassinated by the Israeli Defense Forces).


Rights Sold:

USA, Potomac Books; Israel, Miskal


“Dr. Berko brings to her book a fascinating, personal perspective on suicidal terror. With sensitivity and a genuine cultural understanding, as the daughter of a Jewish family of refugees from Iraq, combined with great expertise in the subject of terror,  Berko has written an astounding document - a penetrating look into the souls of the suicide bombers and their dispatchers. This is a conversation with the dead, the same living bombs that because of a mishap did not actualize their desire to murder." – George P. Fletcher, Columbia University and author of Romantics At War: Glory And Guilt In The Age Of Terrorism

"The book, in short, is highly recommended for all those in the West who are trying to understand the phenomenon of suicide bombings and the ever-increasing threat of Islamic fundamentalism." – Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post

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