Deterring Terrorism?

In the wake of the Bali bombing, which was to Australians as great a loss and cause of national grief as the attack on the World Trade Centre was to Americans, there has been a lot of talk about the death penalty in the media. The mastermind behind the bombings may face the death penalty under Indonesian Law if he is convicted.

Some people believe that the killing of terrorists under such circumstances will set an example and help deter similar acts of terrorism. This is illogical. Executing terrorists produces martyrs who become rallying points for the causes they supported. The fact that many members of extremist groups willingly commit suicide because of their beliefs (like the pilots who flew the planes into the WTC) is ample evidence of this. People who are driven by religious fanaticism will not be deterred by the death penalty. They may even want to be killed, believing that heaven will reward them. Terrorist cells may use the execution of members as 'justification reprisals, thereby continuing the cycle of violence' ( ).

For the record, I sympathise with the survivors and families of the victims of the Bali bombings and the World Trade Centre attack. I was especially impressed by one of the survivors who went back to Bali and was brave enough to confront the bomber and show him the scars he sustained in the explosion.