Crime expert to give lecture

Adrienne Burch

A UA professor attempts to answer the fundamental question of whether suicide terrorists are engaged in sacrifice or suicide in his book, “The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and other Self-Destructive Killers,” released on Tuesday, Jan. 22

Adam Lankford, professor of criminal justice, will speak to students Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. in Room 205 of Gorgas about his new book.

“The book presents unprecedented evidence that suicide terrorists are not selfless “martyrs” trying to sacrifice their lives for an ideological cause,” Lankford said. “But in reality, what makes them different from other people with strong beliefs is that they are suicidal, in the clinical sense.”

Lankford said he believes these attackers have far more in common with other people who commit murder-suicide – like rampage shooters – than they do with people who risk their lives to serve some greater good.

“Are [suicide terrorists] more like the Secret Service agent who takes a bullet for the president, or the teenager who overdoses on pills due to psychological pain?” Lankford said.

In his book he uses case studies of suicide bombers, airline hijackers, rampage shooters, workplace killers and others who committed suicide for similar reasons.

“I provide a list of more than 130 suicide terrorists who displayed risk factors for suicide, along with results from an in-depth analysis of 81 suicide terrorists, rampage shooters, workplace shooters and school shooters who attacked in the U.S. from 1990-2010,” Lankford said.

Lankford said he will discuss his book’s most exciting findings for about 20 minutes and then welcome questions from the audience. He will conclude with a book signing and time for one-on-one questions.

A few weeks ago, Lankford had an op-ed published in The New York Times that received more than 300 emails from people around the country interested in his book and research.

“I think people will be startled to see how our experts have fundamentally misunderstood suicide terrorists for decades,” he said.