Home' InDaily : September 23rd 2010 Contents 2 | Vol 21 No 8 September 2010
... continued from page 1
The tragic strategy of the suicide bomber
In his new book, Life as a Weapon,
Flinders sociologist Emeritus Professor
Riaz Hassan rejects the popular notion
that suicide bombings can be explained
away as the acts of individuals who are
morally depraved, psychologically impaired,
uneducated or religious fanatics.
While acknowledging their horrific
effects, his analysis of 1200 suicide
bombings over 25 years has led him to
the conclusion that suicide bombing is
not an irrational act: rather, it is a
strategic weapon, used by a weaker
party in an asymmetrical, unequal
conflict between the state and
"One must ask if these people
are mindless terrorists or are
they, rather, mindful martyrs
fighting for a cause."
Jawed, who had had only two years of
schooling and no English at all, started
school in Australia at Year 6. "I set myself
a goal: I wanted to make the most of the
opportunity, of this second chance at life,"
He worked as a delivery boy in a
pharmacy while at school, and remained
committed to his studies.
"Life was getting a little bit better for us
but, unable to adjust and come to terms
with her losses, Mum developed a
chronic mental Illness," he said.
At the end of Year 12, Jawed graduated as
Dux of his school with a near perfect score
in English. He went on to complete a
Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree at
the University of Melbourne before coming
to Flinders in 2007 to study medicine.
Their causes are, almost without exception,
political, Professor Hassan said.
"The phenomenon emerges in areas and
countries which have been the location of
endemic conflicts, and those conflicts are
essentially political," he said.
"They are either territorial, as in the case of
Palestine and Israel, or they are conflicts in
which the quality of citizenship has been
withdrawn or denied, as in Sri Lanka, or
where there is a change of power
relationships because of occupying foreign
armies, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Professor Hassan said that all endemic
conflicts result in dislocation, the creation
of refugee camps and the incarceration of
people who are considered to be insurgents.
"Invariably, the dislocation that results from
endemic conflicts is at the heart of suicide
bombing," he said.
His research also concludes that suicide
bombing is never a weapon of first choice, but
is used as a last resort by the weaker party.
The book relies on a database of suicide
bombings that was originally intended to
record incidents that occurred between
1981 and 2004. But in the wake of the Iraq
war, reports of attacks skyrocketed.
"In a single year, the number of suicide
bombings in Iraq eclipsed the global total of
the previous 20 years," Professor Hassan said.
He finally "drew the line" at the end of 2006.
Life as a Weapon was recently published by
Routledge in the US, the UK and Canada.
Photo: © Suhaib Salem / Reuters / Picture Media
He'll return to Melbourne next year as
"I have a passion for surgery and I
hope to follow through and become
an Orthopaedic Surgeon," he said.
But he lives every day with the memories
of life in Afghanistan and the difficulties
of those who continue to suffer from the
horrors of war and the misery it brings
upon a civilian population.
"You can never forget who you are. The
positive thing is that it gives you the
strength to try to make the most of what
you have left."
Cover photo: Gunmen in Afghanistan
© Oleg Zabielin
A family remembers a suicide bomber
Vol 21 No 8 September 2010 | 3
Engineering the future in biomedical devices
Scholarship has students going to water
It seems Karen Reynolds was always
going to be an engineer. She designed
her first mechanical device, a water
pump, at the age of six. And while she
knew what she wanted to do there was
no clear pathway to get there in the
absence of undergraduate degrees in
biomedical engineering. This month
Professor Reynolds received Engineering
Australia's highest accolade by winning
the 2010 Professional Engineer of the Year
in South Australia.
The journey has taken Professor Reynolds
from studying physics at Oxford
University and a PhD and the start of an
academic career in biomedical
engineering at Leicester University in the
UK, to inspiring the next generation of
biomedical engineers at Flinders
University -- the first in Australia to offer
undergraduate biomedical engineering --
for the past 14 years.
Professor Reynolds still finds
that biomedical engineering is
not well understood as a field
of study and research.
"Biomedical engineering is basically the
point at which engineering overlaps
with medicine and life sciences. It
supports the development of the tools
that doctors use - the devices, the
instrumentation and the monitors that
you find in a hospital or a surgery,"
Professor Reynolds tells Flinders Journal.
"Those tools and devices range from
implants, replacement hip and knee
joints and artificial heart valves
through to monitoring devices that
make sense of the body's information
and rehabilitative and assistive
technologies," she said.
In the future, Professor Reynolds sees
biomedical engineering combining
with the frontier technologies to be
found in nanotechnology and human
"It is really important that the people in
this field collaborate with the physicists,
the chemists and the clinicians to work
together and contribute the parts of the
puzzle with which they are most familiar,"
Professor Reynolds draws on her own
experience to describe why students might
A new industry scholarship, the first of its
kind at Flinders University, is set to
encourage a new generation of school
leavers to study the issue Australians
consider their highest priority: water.
The National Centre for Groundwater
Research and Training (NCGRT), based at
Flinders, with industry partner and
leading engineering, sciences and project
delivery firm, Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM),
will jointly offer the $15,000 scholarship
to a student undertaking a three-year
hydrogeology-related degree in the
University's School of the Environment.
NCGRT Deputy Director, Professor Peter
Cook said the scholarship will include
a minimum six-week paid work
experience placement each year, with
one scholarship available to a new
commencing student annually.
"Numerous surveys have revealed that the
availability and use of water rates as a
high priority among many Australians,
and yet the nation has a chronic skills
shortage in this area," Professor Cook said.
"Groundwater is central to the issues of
water supply. The NCGRT and SKM have
developed this scholarship as one way to
entice more people into what is an
exciting and increasingly important
field," he said.
The scholarship will be awarded on
the basis of academic achievement,
satisfactory responses in the application
form and an interview.
Applications open on 25 September
2010 and information is available at
the following websites:
consider study and a career in the field.
"Biomedical engineering appealed to me
because it was a blend of the hardcore,
get-your-hands-dirty sort of engineering,
and electronics with a human dimension
-- it is the potential to achieve something
for the public good that is so exciting,"
Professor Reynolds said.
It is a long way from designing water
pumps at the age of six but Professor
Reynolds retains her passion for this
rapidly developing field that is set to make
a substantial difference to society.
SA's top engineer Professor Karen Reynolds
Working with water, Professor Peter Cook
Links Archive September 22nd 2010 September 24th 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page