Women Who Are Dying to Kill

National Geographic Channel Investigates Terrorism's New Face



Explorer Special Edition: 'Female Suicide Bombers'

Premieres Monday, December 13, 9:00 p.m. ET/PT



Nov 08, 2004, 00:00 ET from National Geographic Channel

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A new kind of terrorist is on the rise:
 female suicide bombers. More difficult to spot than male terrorists, and more
 difficult to understand, these women are the new face of terror. From Russia
 to Sri Lanka to the Middle East, women are increasingly turning their bodies
 into bombs, blowing up markets, schools, and even jetliners. Who are these
 women, and why are they dying to kill? Are they driven by different motives
 than men? National Geographic Channel's Lisa Ling journeys to the war-torn
 streets of Chechnya and Israel's occupied territories to investigate. What she
 uncovers are surprising pieces of a complex puzzle, revealed in a powerful new
 show, Explorer Special Edition: "Female Suicide Bombers," premiering Monday,
 December 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
     Female suicide bombers, almost unheard of a few years ago, have become a
 rapidly spreading threat, leaving police and soldiers scrambling to adjust
 their defenses. Chechnya has its "black widows" and Palestine has an "army of
 roses." The 2002 Moscow theater attack by Chechen rebels galvanized world
 attention with images of black-robed women wearing belts of dynamite and
 threatening scores of innocent hostages. In Russia, female suicide bombers
 have been involved in more than 10 attacks, including the downing of two
 jetliners and the deadly school siege in Beslan. And since 2002, eight
 Palestinian women have exploded themselves, killing at least 35 people and
 wounding hundreds more.
     What drives women, traditionally givers of life and keepers of home and
 family, to take their own lives along with so many others'? Are these acts of
 revenge? Of complete despair? Or are these women coerced into these horrific
 crimes? Intimate conversations with the families of bombers and their victims
 provide a window into the incomprehensible as Ling hears from both sides of
 the anger, despair, and hopelessness fueling these acts of terror. Candid
 interviews with those left behind -- a mother who says she raised her child to
 become a suicide bomber, another desperately searching for clues as to what
 pushed her quiet daughter over the edge -- paint a complex portrait of
 individual desperation and tragedies inflamed by political chaos.
     "Military occupation, political oppression, and religious fervor alone do
 not explain women's growing terrorist role," noted Ling. "Time and time again,
 we found a dangerous cocktail of personal pressures and circumstances unique
 for women bombers. What may have otherwise been a lone suicide becomes an
 opportunity to strike at one's enemy and make their family proud."
     In Gaza, Ling finds a palpable sense of death in the Israeli occupied
 territories where an omnipresent culture of martyrdom has embraced those
 willing to give their life. In this tragic and terrifying world, terrorists
 like Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, are revered as
 role models for young girls. One poignant example is the case of 18-year-old
 honor student Ayat Al Akhras. Soon to be married, she instead chose to blow
 herself up in an Israeli market, taking the life of 17-year-old Rachel Levy.
 Rachel's mother explains that the two girls looked so strikingly similar they
 could have been mistaken for sisters. Ayat's parents point to the Israeli
 occupation as a reason for her deadly actions.
     Ayat's choice was decidedly her own, but other female bombers seem to be
 coerced when they are most vulnerable. In Chechnya, Ling speaks to Medna
 Bayrakova, whose daughter, Zareta, was one of the terrorists in the Moscow
 theater attack. Zareta's world was filled with hardships. Her mother tells
 Ling that corrupt officials crushed Zareta's hopes for college, and as Grozny
 was leveled by the Russians, she and her daughter took refuge in a damp
 basement, where Zareta contracted tuberculosis. Unable to afford medical
 treatment, Zareta was dying. It was then that the Chechen rebels came calling.
 Medna is convinced they took advantage of her sick daughter, promising her a
 martyr's escape from a life of misery.
     But a lack of education and opportunity is not a prerequisite in the
 development of a female suicide bomber.  Ling also meets with Fatin, a
 Palestinian college student studying chemistry and planning on medical school.
 While she dreams of saving lives, she also dreams of death.  The bright future
 she sees for herself is not reflected in the ruins of her hometown. A recent
 Israeli incursion into Fatin's neighborhood leaves dozens of Palestinians dead
 and hundreds of homes destroyed -- isn't this reason to strike out at the
 enemy, she asks? This confident young woman explains to Ling the lure of dying
 for a cause -- and says that she may one day become a killer.
     Join Explorer Special Edition for an intense and moving look at the line
 where hopelessness begets rage, murder fuels martyrdom, and women are
 increasingly dying to kill.
     Explorer's new season filled with in-depth stories of people, creatures,
 and places debuts on the National Geographic Channel in January 2005.
 
     Based at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the
 National Geographic Channel is a joint venture between National Geographic
 Television & Film (NGT&F) and Fox Cable Networks. National Geographic Channel
 debuted to an initial 10 million homes in January 2001, and has been one of
 the fastest growing networks in history. The Channel has carriage with all of
 the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it
 currently available to 52 million homes. For more information, please visit
 http://www.nationalgeographic.com/channel.
 
 

SOURCE National Geographic Channel
    WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A new kind of terrorist is on the rise:
 female suicide bombers. More difficult to spot than male terrorists, and more
 difficult to understand, these women are the new face of terror. From Russia
 to Sri Lanka to the Middle East, women are increasingly turning their bodies
 into bombs, blowing up markets, schools, and even jetliners. Who are these
 women, and why are they dying to kill? Are they driven by different motives
 than men? National Geographic Channel's Lisa Ling journeys to the war-torn
 streets of Chechnya and Israel's occupied territories to investigate. What she
 uncovers are surprising pieces of a complex puzzle, revealed in a powerful new
 show, Explorer Special Edition: "Female Suicide Bombers," premiering Monday,
 December 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
     Female suicide bombers, almost unheard of a few years ago, have become a
 rapidly spreading threat, leaving police and soldiers scrambling to adjust
 their defenses. Chechnya has its "black widows" and Palestine has an "army of
 roses." The 2002 Moscow theater attack by Chechen rebels galvanized world
 attention with images of black-robed women wearing belts of dynamite and
 threatening scores of innocent hostages. In Russia, female suicide bombers
 have been involved in more than 10 attacks, including the downing of two
 jetliners and the deadly school siege in Beslan. And since 2002, eight
 Palestinian women have exploded themselves, killing at least 35 people and
 wounding hundreds more.
     What drives women, traditionally givers of life and keepers of home and
 family, to take their own lives along with so many others'? Are these acts of
 revenge? Of complete despair? Or are these women coerced into these horrific
 crimes? Intimate conversations with the families of bombers and their victims
 provide a window into the incomprehensible as Ling hears from both sides of
 the anger, despair, and hopelessness fueling these acts of terror. Candid
 interviews with those left behind -- a mother who says she raised her child to
 become a suicide bomber, another desperately searching for clues as to what
 pushed her quiet daughter over the edge -- paint a complex portrait of
 individual desperation and tragedies inflamed by political chaos.
     "Military occupation, political oppression, and religious fervor alone do
 not explain women's growing terrorist role," noted Ling. "Time and time again,
 we found a dangerous cocktail of personal pressures and circumstances unique
 for women bombers. What may have otherwise been a lone suicide becomes an
 opportunity to strike at one's enemy and make their family proud."
     In Gaza, Ling finds a palpable sense of death in the Israeli occupied
 territories where an omnipresent culture of martyrdom has embraced those
 willing to give their life. In this tragic and terrifying world, terrorists
 like Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, are revered as
 role models for young girls. One poignant example is the case of 18-year-old
 honor student Ayat Al Akhras. Soon to be married, she instead chose to blow
 herself up in an Israeli market, taking the life of 17-year-old Rachel Levy.
 Rachel's mother explains that the two girls looked so strikingly similar they
 could have been mistaken for sisters. Ayat's parents point to the Israeli
 occupation as a reason for her deadly actions.
     Ayat's choice was decidedly her own, but other female bombers seem to be
 coerced when they are most vulnerable. In Chechnya, Ling speaks to Medna
 Bayrakova, whose daughter, Zareta, was one of the terrorists in the Moscow
 theater attack. Zareta's world was filled with hardships. Her mother tells
 Ling that corrupt officials crushed Zareta's hopes for college, and as Grozny
 was leveled by the Russians, she and her daughter took refuge in a damp
 basement, where Zareta contracted tuberculosis. Unable to afford medical
 treatment, Zareta was dying. It was then that the Chechen rebels came calling.
 Medna is convinced they took advantage of her sick daughter, promising her a
 martyr's escape from a life of misery.
     But a lack of education and opportunity is not a prerequisite in the
 development of a female suicide bomber.  Ling also meets with Fatin, a
 Palestinian college student studying chemistry and planning on medical school.
 While she dreams of saving lives, she also dreams of death.  The bright future
 she sees for herself is not reflected in the ruins of her hometown. A recent
 Israeli incursion into Fatin's neighborhood leaves dozens of Palestinians dead
 and hundreds of homes destroyed -- isn't this reason to strike out at the
 enemy, she asks? This confident young woman explains to Ling the lure of dying
 for a cause -- and says that she may one day become a killer.
     Join Explorer Special Edition for an intense and moving look at the line
 where hopelessness begets rage, murder fuels martyrdom, and women are
 increasingly dying to kill.
     Explorer's new season filled with in-depth stories of people, creatures,
 and places debuts on the National Geographic Channel in January 2005.
 
     Based at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the
 National Geographic Channel is a joint venture between National Geographic
 Television & Film (NGT&F) and Fox Cable Networks. National Geographic Channel
 debuted to an initial 10 million homes in January 2001, and has been one of
 the fastest growing networks in history. The Channel has carriage with all of
 the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it
 currently available to 52 million homes. For more information, please visit
 http://www.nationalgeographic.com/channel.
 
 SOURCE  National Geographic Channel