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13 July 2015


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Off hand I don't recall anything since the Japanese in WW2 that resembles this. Let me know if you do.

I remember reading at the time in the newspaper that at Dien Bien Phu
the Viet Minh used suicide bombers to rip apart the barbed wire.


Found the following:


During the war between Vietnamese guerrillas and French colonials in Indochina, the Viet Minh utilized "Death Volunteers" during the battle for Dien Bien Phu in March 1954. The Death Volunteers used explosives to blast holes in the French defenses to allow Viet Minh infantry to exploit the breaches.

no one

kamikazes have interested me since, when a boy, my Dad told me about watching them from his foxhole diving into ships off Okinawa. At any rate, it seems that the kamikaze pilots were quite joyful about their final mission when they believed they were turning the tide of the war. Later, due to delays in the promised Japanese victories, when they perceived that their lives were being wasted, the pilots began to become insubordinate, drunk and disorderly. Some pilots even ditched their aircraft hoping to survive and escape. One even strafed his own command before leaving Japan for ever.


As for the borg - chatter is that Lee has become senile and her editor should have taken better care of her.

D White

Col. Lang said: ...Imagine! Atticus Finch was something like a real man...

The fact that he defended a black man of his acquaintance, and also could belong to a citizens council, is something that people unfamiliar with the South will find hard to understand


Col Lang or Patrick,

Have either of you heard of an ISIS unit dubbed the "Army of the Caliphate."

I came away with the impression it was meant to be a sort of internationalist/rapid response unit capable of being deployed to reinforce offensive or defensive areas throughout ISIS's areas of operation.

The "Army of the Caliphate" also struck me as a pool from which individuals could be selected to carry out terror attacks in the West and/or form nuclei for guerrilla movements in places like Libya, Tunisia, the Maghreb, and/or the Caucasus.

Any further information would be greatly appreciated.



I have never heard of this behavior and never saw it in my war service in VN. The enemy would attack hard and often with little apparent care for casualties but they did not wish to die. Perhaps the name is a rhetorical flourish. PB will have an opinion. pl


There is the theory that the modern phenomenon of Middle Eastern suicide bombing has its origins in the trench warfare of the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s. The waves of young boys sent to clear the way for the older fighters behind them.

This idea was transferred to cars. Was it the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Kuwait that was perpetrated by an Iraqi Shia whose brother had been executed by Saddam for membership of the outlawed Al-Da'wah Party? Thence to Beirut and Hezbullah and beyond.

It is now so ingrained in the culture of both I don't think there's hope for either strand of madness in Shia or Sunni Islam.


Martin J

It was the Iranians, never the Iraqis who used human wave attacks of the kind you describe. I have a detailed knowledge of Basiij tactics in that war. No differentiation was made by age among the Basiij. pl



I'm wondering why you make a distinction between the tactical vs strategic use of suicide bombers. ISIL's use is for tactical effects (the equivalence of artillery--or precision guided munitions--as you point out).

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers used suicide bombers; unsure of the tactical context.

IRGC/Hizballah in Lebanon use suicide bombers for strategic goals.

HAMAS as well.



IMO IS in Iraq has thus far used suicide bombers as part of its tactical fire plans. if they get them into Baghdad and take on the US embassy with a wave of them that would be a different matter. In these other places they have often been strategic weapons. pl



yes, sorry I meant to say it was the Iranians.

I remember chatting once in Baghdad to an old Iraqi special forces NCO, a Sunni. He told me he was a machine gunner in that war. He would sit there mowing down children he said until the tears fell from his eyes. And he's just continue shooting and crying while he killed these waves of humans coming at them.

He thought they were mad.

The Iranians took that mindset of sacrifice and turned it into an art form. Directing that energy against specific targets such as embassies.

Now that its been apprehended by extremist Sunni groups I see amusing parallels with Islamic banking. That too was invented by a Shia theologian, an Iraqi. Now conveniently swept under the carpet by the multi billion dollar Gulf Islamic banking empire.


Martin J

Yes, there were adolescents among the basiij as well as the pious of all other ages. Pre-adolescent children? I don't think so. Arabic can be somewhat imprecise in explain things like that. The basiij did not seek to die. They were merely willing to do so. pl


Colonel Lang - I don't recall anything that resembles this on this scale. But seems to me there was at least one such use by the Tamil Tigers in 87. They used a suicide truck bomb immediately followed by an infantry attack on a Sri Lankan army base. I think there have been more of that type in Sri Lanka but the majority of the Tigers suicide attacks were assassinations and not poor-man's artillery.

Patrick Bahzad

I've read the stratfor piece and disagree both with some of the elements it presents as facts and in particular with the contention the Vietminh used suicide attacks at Dien Bien Phu.
The viet Minh did indeed have "death volunteer" units which were mainly combat engineers used to storm strong defensive compounds and blast holes for infantry to pull through. However, even though the likelihood of death was quite high in some of these missions, it has nothing to do with "suicide attacks" in modern sense, not even with Japanese kamikaze.
There are other aspects in the stratfor piece that sound poorly researched, for example the German Luftwaffe didn't have suicide pilots either. They used a technique in one instance only where fighter pilots would try to disable US bombers by colliding with them, but trying to get away wit it. It was only used once and most german pilots even those who "rammed" a US bomber made it out alive.
Regarding Beirut, how can Stratfor not mention the U.S. embassy bombing of April 1983 ? I wouldn't give them too much credit for this piece. It lacks perspective and accuracy.


Malahumba - Those were sappers trying to blow the wire. Yes they carried demolition charges for the wire or for bunkers. Perhaps one or two of them were killed by their own demo charge. Their risk of casualties was extremely high. But there was no deliberate policy of suicide that I am aware of unless it was something pushed by a local commander.

The Brits in the Napoleonic Era and earlier used the term "the Forlorn Hope" for the leading elements of such an attack on a well defended position. There were lots of volunteers because of the potential rewards if you survived.

Patrick Bahzad

PL, agree with you, think Stratfor didn't do its homework, confusing "suicide bombers" with willingness of fighters to put their body on the line, literally.

Patrick Bahzad

It is widely accepted that the concept of ME "suicide attacks" was born in the Iran Iraq war in 1981 when 14 year old hossein fahmideh threw himself under an iraqi tank while carrying a grenade. His grave at Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery is still a place of official celebrations of the Shia "shuhada".
If there is one date and starting point to look for it is Fahmideh's martyrdom act. Soon after, things were taken to another level when The IDF's HQ in Tyr was blown up in 1982. Then came the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the the marines and french paratroopers barracks.
I wouldn't call it madness though, in particular not when it is a military style attack against enemy combatants in a conflict situation. It is not considered terrorism in these cases anyway, so one has to recognize that, even though the logic and rationale for actions such as these might be more difficult to understand.

Patrick Bahzad

Carrying out a suicide attack in Iraq Iran war and in Lebanon while the country was under attack by Israel is one thing. Blowing up embassies of countries you're not formally at war with, or bombing the barracks of the multinational UN force is a despicable act of cowardice and treachery.
And I'm not even talking about blowing oneself up in the middle of a crowd .. Or crashing a civilian airliner into a high rise building.
These are very different things.

Patrick Bahzad

Before answering your question, I would just like to note that the title "army of the caliphate" is being used by different groups, one being an ISIS branch in North Africa and another being an Al Qaeda franchise both in Syria and AFPAK.

Regarding ISIS "army of the caliphate" in the iraqi heartland as well as in Syria, this is basically another name for what they call their "special forces" approx. 3 000 men strong now and lead by Abu Omar al Shishani. There is definitely some international flair to this outfit, with Some 50 % of personnel coming from Caucasus or North Africa and Syrians being banned from joining.

They ar being used in very small groups only, spearheading offensive action mostly, and represent some kind of "Pretorian guard" for the "caliph" due to their absolute commitment to the cause. They also organize the training and supervision of more basic IS units.

I'm not sure though that being trained as terrorist cells operating in the west is part of their mission statement. I think ISIS has other pools of recruits much more likely to undergo that sort of training than the Chechens.



It will be quite a ballet.


Thanks for the information.

Now, are detachments from ISIS's "Army of the Caliphate" serving as the special operations detachments for regional units or are the regional/Wilayat units raising their own special operations/commando units in addition to the "Army of the Caliphate?

Additionally, what percentage of the Army of the Caliphate is Iraqi? Are the 1000 Anbaris once commanded by Shishani now in it?


To jump a millennium into the past: Al Hasan Ibn Al Sabah jumps to mind. Although his Hashasheen did not commit suicide and preferred to be killed in combat.
However, there are some stories about Fedayeen that were ordered to jump off the wall of a castle to their deaths, in order to impress a besieging rival.
I guess combination of religious fervor and drugs can do wonders.



His name was Hossein Fahmideh. But he had predecessors, living a millennium earlier.
I refer to my earlier post above: the use of assassinations (the name is ethnologist Farsi/Arabic)


The modern tactic of suicide bombin actually originated by the Tamil Tigers.


"There are other aspects in the stratfor piece that sound poorly researched, for example the German Luftwaffe didn't have suicide pilots either."

That is not correct. There were suicide pilots/planes for the destruction of bridges in 1945, can't remember whether there were actual sorties.

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