Gender and Terrorism (Female Suicide Missions)

Case Studies

Adana, Turkey

Photo: Adana, Turkey http://citiesofturkey.blogspot.com/2010/04/adana-pictures.html

Zeinab Kinaci (volunteer suicide)

Zeinab Kinaci is widely considered the pioneer in engineering the use of female bombing in Turkey. [xi] Her attack took place on July 2, 1996, in the province of Tunseli. Some 6 (according to other sources), 9 persons were killed [xii]; the number of the wounded was around 30. According to a witness, the girl, dressed as a pregnant woman, ran among the soldiers while crying nationalist appeals during a routine military ceremony of the rising of national flag. According to Turkish media, at the moment of the act she was 24 years old, pregnant and under medical control because of deep psychological disorders. The medical staff caring for her insists they didn’t know about her relations with PKK.[xiii] However, some Kurdish sources and especially the German based DEM news announced  in their web site that the girl was a member of PKK and her husband was at the time a prisoner in the southern city of Adana.[xiv] According to the same source, Zeinab left a written message asking the world to support Kurdish separatist cause.

Leyla Kaplan (forced suicide)

Some scholars reject the idea that Zeinab Kinaci carried the first successful female suicide mission and insist that the first known perpetrator was Leyla Kaplan who blew herself up in November 1996 in Adana, Turkey killing 3 policemen.[xv] No reliable explanations exist about her decision. Based on information provided by Turkish authorities, many authors believe that Leyla, as were many other women, was forced to commit suicide against her will[xvi]: Her accomplice, a young girl named Turkan Adfiyaman, refused to go through with the suicide attack, disobeying her orders. A male terrorist took the two young women outside the city and killed Turhan with one bullet to her head. Leyla knew if she refused the attack she was going to be killed like Turkan, so she decided to die as a hero![xvii]

Another female suicide attack was executed in 1998, [xviii] followed by an assault in the town of Van (December 24th 1998);[xix] in Batman (March 4th 1999);[xx] in Istanbul (March 28th 1999);[xxi] and in Adana (July 4th or 5th 1999).[xxii] In general, at least 11 female suicide missions took place between 1996 and 1999 until the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested in Kenya and put in jail on Imrala Island.

There is no unanimity concerning the question when PKK decided to resort to suicide acts. Some accept the decision has been taken by its 5th congress, which took place 8-27 of January 1995 in Northen Iraq and confirmed by the March meeting of the leadership next year.[xxiii] According to other opinions, this happened at mid 1996, even though related ideas can be found in public statements of its leader some months before.[xxiv]

 


[xi] For this version see: ANONIMOUS. 1996. Kamikadze kills 9 Turkish soldiersQNP, Copyright 1996, Nationwide News Pty Limited Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), July 2, Tuesday, ANONIMOUS. 1996. Suicide bomber leaves final message. QNP, Copyright 1996 Nationwide News Pty Limited  Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), July 3,  Wednesday; ANONIMOUS. 1996. QNP, Copyright 1996, Nationwide News Pty Limited Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), July 2, Tuesday

[xii] ANONIMOUS. 1996. KAMIKAZE KURD KILLS 9 TURKISH SOLDIERS, QNP, Copyright 1996 Nationwide News Pty Limited, Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), July 2, 1996, Tuesday)

[xiii] ANONIMOUS. 1996. KAMIKAZE KURD KILLS 9 TURKISH SOLDIERS, QNP, Copyright 1996, Nationwide News Pty Limited Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), 
July 2, 1996, Tuesday

[xiv] ANONIMOUS. SUICIDE BOMBER LEAVES FINAL MESSAGE, QNP, Copyright 1996 Nationwide News Pty Limited  Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), July 3, 1996, Wednesday

[xv] REUTER, Christoph. 2004. My life is a weapon: a modern history of suicide bombing, Princeton University Press, p. 165

[xvi] SHAI, Shaul.2004. The Shahids: Islam and Suicide Attacks. London, Transaction Publishers, pp. 105-106

[xvii] CENTER OF EXCELLENCE – Defense against the Terrorism. 2007. Suicide as a weapon. Ankara, p. 31

[xviii] Global News Wire. Turkish Daily News.  November 18, 1998

[xix] ANONYMOUS. 1998. Kurdish rebel blows up Turkish military bus, two killed, 21 wounded, Associated Press Worldstream, December 24, Thursday

[xx] ANONIMOUS. 2008. Suicide Attacks: A Case Study in Turkey. TIPS Connections http://www.tipsconnections.org/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=1072

[xxi] ANATOLIA NEWS AGENCY. 1999.Istanbul governor say Kurdish rebels’ intentions filed. Ankara, 28th March

[xxii] www.tkb.org/incident 

[xxiii] ANONIMOUS. 2008. Suicide Attacks: A Case Study in Turkey. TIPS Connections http://www.tipsconnections.org/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=1072

[xxiv] ANONIMOUS. 1996. Patterns of global terrorism 1996. http://fas.org/irp/threat/terror_96/europe.html

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