See my vest! See my vest!
February 4, 2005 5:49 PM   Subscribe

One fashion trend that I wish would go away is the suicide vest.
posted by furtive (45 comments total)

 
I realize these are "display models", but what chilled me most of all about this is how all the nails and bolts are aligned in such neat, tidy patterns.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:01 PM on February 4, 2005


Interesting what's used as fragments (screw driver bits, sheets of glass[?]). However, it doesn't seem to be shaped very well (the dispersal pattern seems like it would be pretty random).

The movie Swordfish exagerates the effects of a vest with ball bearings by several orders of magnitude, I wonder if there has been discovered any un-detonated vests that arranged the fragments such that it would do the most harm?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 6:03 PM on February 4, 2005


Looking at this, I have to say: there has probably never before been a photo taken of a man wearing a suicide-bomber vest and a Bass Pro Shops hat.
posted by ruddhist at 6:18 PM on February 4, 2005


The nails in particular are aligned in a neat, tidy pattern since they're prepackaged "ammo" for a pneumatic nail gun. You can buy it in Home Depot like that.
posted by tss at 6:19 PM on February 4, 2005


how all the nails and bolts are aligned in such neat, tidy patterns.

That chilled me, too. On the surface, it looks like a very precise killing machine, especially for a non-mass-manufactured implement, though you probably won't see it at a shooting range used for sport anytime soon. In practice, any group of civilians on the business end of it will see how unprecise it is, maximized for dispersing as much pain (via glass, nails, whatever) as messily as possible. Human Rights Watch has a well-organized report on how devices like this are used on Israeli civilians, called Erased in a Moment.

Semi off-topic:

Speaking of improvised weapons, I had to laugh, darkly, at how crude these were.
posted by jenleigh at 6:21 PM on February 4, 2005


That was interesting. The vest is pretty bulk, but perhaps not as bulky as I would have expected (I'm not entirely sure, having never given it serious thought, but it seems like I imagined they'd be larger). Still, you'd have to wear a substantial jacket to cover something like that up.
posted by The God Complex at 6:39 PM on February 4, 2005


Notice all the double stitching in all the high stress areas on that vest?

That thing was built to LAST!!
posted by Balisong at 6:52 PM on February 4, 2005


If I recall (but can't find a source) the Palestinians were suspected of having assembly lines for the suicide vests. Cheap labor, pride in their work and each person responsible for a section - you probably would produce an orderly, high-quality vest such as this. A frightening thought...
posted by fluffycreature at 6:54 PM on February 4, 2005


This made my blood run cold to look at. The one with his arms up and the detonator in his hand, the look on his face, he looks like its creeping him out wearing it.

Looking at it brings a new dimension to the reality of modern war. It is scarily efficient and brutal looking.

fluffycreature, I was also thinking about the people that made these and what they thought while doing it. It depresses me.
posted by fenriq at 7:02 PM on February 4, 2005


I doubt the "real" vests are so clean and shiny. My eye can't help but be drawn to all that shiny silver.

It looks like the odds-n-ends are laminated into a sheet.
posted by odinsdream at 7:06 PM on February 4, 2005


I always pictured these sort of things being more cobbled together using lots of duct tape. These devices look very clean and professional...

I'm both impressed and disturbed.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:11 PM on February 4, 2005


odinsdream: you are right to doubt, and the real thing is much more deadly. The instruments of terrorists are scientific in theory but crudely put together, just one of the reasons so many innocents are murdered instead of the intended targets.

Kind of lame for these guys to put this "show" together. Just gun freaks getting off on stuff. Soldiers for the Truth. Right.
posted by snsranch at 7:18 PM on February 4, 2005


BTW, I could go into detail about why that vest is idiotic by I won't be the one to give bomb making lessons on the blue.
posted by snsranch at 7:28 PM on February 4, 2005


It looks like the odds-n-ends are laminated into a sheet

They are, which is pretty stupid if you think about it. It would be far more efficient to just fill the briefcase up with loose nuts and bolts and nails and other such nastiness.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:51 PM on February 4, 2005


how all the nails and bolts are aligned in such neat, tidy patterns.

That chilled me, too.


Why should it chill anyone? No one really knows what the real thing looks like (except the cold fuckers who help the suicide bombers get dressed). I have no confidence that suicide bombers in Israel wear neatly-sewed, mathematically-even vests like this at all, nor that they slip their nails into clear-vinyl sleeves. Don't be chilled. This is pretend. Not to mention propaganda.

All photos depict the real stuff being used against Israel and through out the mid-east by terrorists.


Oh shit. Looks like I was wrong. Sorry. I guess the suicide bombers really do sew little transparent pockets on for all those nails. And I guess they do use brad-nailer refills, not just mangled rebar and old screws from their destroyed neighborhoods. Who knew they were such pros? I stand corrected, and chilled by their mathematical precision. What cold, calculating bastards.
posted by scarabic at 7:52 PM on February 4, 2005


jenleigh - I'm surprised at the crudeness, too although I have to admit that the two bludgeons on the left are pretty well made.

Do you have personal experience with HS improvised weapons (as a teacher perhaps)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:06 PM on February 4, 2005


scarabic, what has driven you to such depths of snark?
posted by snsranch at 8:07 PM on February 4, 2005


The plastic sleeves holding the nails and bolts are there because its a demonstration model, they make it so it can be dismantled and shown what the basic components of a suicide vest are. It doesn't have to be exactly like the real thing, it

An actual bomber's vest would have been equally as impressive, maybe moreso. The point is the havoc this thing can wreak without regard.

Maybe its partially because of the Down's Syndrome kid they blew up, I don't know.

snsranch, very good thinking. I once posted something about terrorist targets and immediately deleted it once I had your same thought, I'm not gonna help 'em.
posted by fenriq at 8:18 PM on February 4, 2005


Uh, the tag should be IED, not IUD.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 8:31 PM on February 4, 2005


Not to mention propaganda.

Propaganda against suicide bombing? How devious and reprehensible! We can't have that, now can we?

And I guess they do use brad-nailer refills, not just mangled rebar and old screws from their destroyed neighborhoods. Who knew they were such pros? I stand corrected, and chilled by their mathematical precision. What cold, calculating bastards.

Some primo apologism right there. You really should be in politics.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:39 PM on February 4, 2005


Pop quiz, hotshots. The first Palestinian suicide bomber against Israeli civilians occurred after...

a. one year of brutally oppressive occupation.
b. 10 years of brutally oppressive occupation.
c. 25 years of brutally oppressive occupation.

Right. C. And yet the plight of the indigenous people of Palestine has been inseparably linked in the Western public's mind with suicide bombers. These pictures are an example of this.

(The first Palestinian suicide bomber against Israeli civilians, in 1994, occured 40 days after an Israeli man living in one of the illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories walked into a mosque during Ramadan and shot 29 civilians dead while they prayed. Subsequent riots left another 26 Palestinians dead and two Israelis dead.)

How many, when they hear "Palestinian", think "terrorist" or "suicide bomber"? How accurate is that, really? And what impact do web pages like this have on that perception? These things are at least worth thinking about.
posted by Wataki at 9:39 PM on February 4, 2005


Fashion trend?
posted by eatitlive at 9:49 PM on February 4, 2005


25 years of brutally oppressive occupation. [...] the plight of the indigenous people of Palestine has been inseparably linked in the Western public's mind with suicide bombers.

I would contend that you lose the moral high ground when you start killing civilians or fail to condemn those who do.
posted by aubin at 10:13 PM on February 4, 2005


It looks like the odds-n-ends are laminated into a sheet

They are, which is pretty stupid if you think about it. It would be far more efficient to just fill the briefcase up with loose nuts and bolts and nails and other such nastiness.


Really? What do you think suicide bombing is, amateur hour? These are highly organized military operations, as the HRW report makes perfectly clear. It has been estimated that the average suicide bombing depends on as many as 60 individuals, from bomb-makers to trainers to smugglers and lookouts. Think about this for a moment. You're boarding a crowded bus with a briefcase. Which rattles.

An Arsenal of Believers is the New Yorker's most excellent account of individuals involved in the suicide-bomb trade. The technology of bomb-making spreads by video and depends on a certain precision (ask anybody with experience in a fireworks factory); master Palestinian bomb-makers are given the title Engineer. I'm no demolitions expert, but it does seem to me that a suicide bomb probably isn't usually intended to be shaped per se but to disperse as randomly and widely as possible.

Why should it chill anyone? No one really knows what the real thing looks like (except the cold fuckers who help the suicide bombers get dressed). I have no confidence that suicide bombers in Israel wear neatly-sewed, mathematically-even vests like this at all, nor that they slip their nails into clear-vinyl sleeves. Don't be chilled. This is pretend. Not to mention propaganda.

Scarabic, the Israeli police know what the real thing looks like (also). They actually do arrest bombers on occasion before they detonate (or are detonated remotely); some have turned themselves in. Other times raids have seized suicide bomb materials before use. And US troops found at least one cache of hundreds of pre-manufactured, well-packed suicide vests when entering Baghdad.

Personally, I really don't understand why it's "propaganda" to show a well-made suicide vest as opposed to the image that for a long time was presented in the Western media, i.e. that of a despairing youngster who suddenly decides this is his only hope and pulls together something at random. It's clearer now, or should be, that terrorism that isn't highly organized doesn't work very well and can't be sustained. In fact, the al Qaeda brand of terror falls into this category, whereas the Ba'athist/insurgent terror being used in Iraq is finding a much more successful equilibrium. They didn't achieve a spectacular Tet during the election, but they have brought Iraq to an overall level of unease that is widely spread throughout the country and use such a wide variety of methods that no one defensive tactic can counter them all. Strategically, one has to be impressed here, especially given the baffling strategic confusion in Iraq's military leading up to, during, and immediately following our invasion.

How many, when they hear "Palestinian", think "terrorist" or "suicide bomber"? How accurate is that, really? And what impact do web pages like this have on that perception? These things are at least worth thinking about.

Wataki, when the Palestinian military arms of Fatah and Hamas make every effort to make suicide bombings their primary weapon of terror, what exactly is one supposed to think? Suicide bomber, for many, now is inextricably linked to Palestinians in the public mind, but surely that isn't our error. Saying otherwise is the equivalent of arguing that Lynndie England and Charles Graner were just acting out of frustration over their fallen colleagues, and I don't think that's the sort of point you're trying to make. Palestinian = suicide bomber is certainly an illogical conclusion, but suicide bomber = Palestinian, well, isn't. (There are other groups, such as the Tamil Tigers, who are not Muslim, that also use the tactic. But where else in history has it been in common use?)
posted by dhartung at 10:15 PM on February 4, 2005


This is pretend. Not to mention propaganda.

The conference demo was obviously a bit of pretend. Not sure I get the 'propaganda' bit, either. Scarabic: how do you mean?

Do you have personal experience with HS improvised weapons?

I've actually taught HS in Norway, Poland and the US, and have seen students caught with the silliest kind of confiscated homemade weapons, almost more like implements you'd find in a prison. In all cases, the students had carried them to be tough, with almost no likelihood of putting them to use. Maybe it's an alpha-male thing? ;)
posted by dhoyt at 10:43 PM on February 4, 2005


Ohhh goody, the Israel/Palestine issue.

Why might this be considered propaganda? Whether or not I consider this propaganda hinges on one question: Can anyone corroborate the reports of a factory for suicide vests?

If there was such a factory, then I won't consider this neccessarily to be propagandistic. If there was not such a factory, I will consider this as propaganda designed to propagate that myth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
posted by VP_Admin at 10:44 PM on February 4, 2005


jenleigh - I'm surprised at the crudeness, too although I have to admit that the two bludgeons on the left are pretty well made.

Creative, to be sure. I've never taught, but nor would I want to be a disciplinarian crossing paths with misbehaving student wielding one of those things....
posted by jenleigh at 10:58 PM on February 4, 2005


Its late and inappropriate; but what is this? "Ask for a raise today" mens wear? Should the background be a postal sorting room? No golden arches in sight? Ted Nugents Ultimate Wild Boar Hunt?

I am surprised SFTT had this posted, it seems too extreme for a David Hackworth production. Bizarre to imagine something like this going off in a mall somewhere.

I wonder what the F.P. Murrah building survivors got in compensation?
posted by buzzman at 11:38 PM on February 4, 2005


Yo scarabic: bombers are sometimes apprehended before they reach their targets. There has been at least one attempt that I recall in the last year where the bomber chickened out (you remember - young kid, mildly retarded). So it is not so that the real thing is unobtainable.

Now, it wouldn't suprise me if some military neat-freak straightened everything out.

In any event, since we know that people blow themselves up, with clothing loaded with explosives and shrapnel, I'm not really feeling the "propaganda" angle.

the plight of the indigenous people of Palestine has been inseparably linked in the Western public's mind with suicide bombers.

Indeed. Why? Because some (possibly misguided or unrepresentative, I am happy to admit) of those same people use the technique frequently.

This may well be a big PR mistake, but goodness me, the association is hardly based in fantasy.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:04 AM on February 5, 2005


And as an addendum - when they stop blowing themselves up in crowded marketplaces, then I'll stop associating them with suicide bombers. OK?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:05 AM on February 5, 2005


Thank you Scarabic..

What I MEANT to RELATE by my observation that there is not only double stitching, but rivets, in the high stress areas on that vest, is that it's made by Americans or at least by Chinese done to American specs.

That is.. It's Propaganda.

The people who really use and make these vests will find rebar that was once in the foundation of their home or buisiness as the shrapnel for their bombs.

No appoligies for them here, suicide bombers are the lowest you can go... There's nothing left.

I can, however see where the shrapnel they use for their bombs could (would) probably have some will-giving, purpose-driven, symbolic meaning to them.

Not just whatever's on sale at Home Depot.
posted by Balisong at 12:09 AM on February 5, 2005


Heh. I live a mile from Bass Pro (The world headquarters).

All their customers look like this.
posted by sourwookie at 12:11 AM on February 5, 2005



Kind of lame for these guys to put this "show" together. Just gun freaks getting off on stuff. Soldiers for the Truth. Right.


Exactly my thoughts. The midwest and Southern US are just full of rednecks like these positively itching to draw some link between the terrorist threat and their own well-ingrained love of weaponry. These are the guys who have wet dreams about single-handedly capturing Osama bin Laden.

I know this after having gone to my hometown recently (I'm from the South), and talking with a group of old high school friends who seemed fairly convinced that it was only a matter of time before the terrorists brought the war to small town America. And my friends were "gonna kick some ass come the shit."
posted by zardoz at 12:39 AM on February 5, 2005


"These are the guys who have wet dreams about single-handedly capturing Osama bin Laden."

Such is Southern honor.

But hey, I wouldn't mind doing it, too. But I'd rather say I did it with a paintball gun and .68 caliber pepperball ammunition.

Not because I'm nonviolent. But because doing so would be more of a challenge.
posted by bugmuncher at 1:19 AM on February 5, 2005


Weapons used by poor oppressed people just aren't as cool as weapons used by rich people to kill poor people at a distance.

Won't someone please post some more aeroplane photos?
posted by sien at 2:01 AM on February 5, 2005


It's not bad. It has lots of useful pockets. But I think I would try to design it, perhaps with some plating, so that it would deflect more of the blast out from the bomber and toward the intended victims.
posted by pracowity at 2:11 AM on February 5, 2005


Still, you'd have to wear a substantial jacket to cover something like that up.

"I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle."

"You forgot to say please."
posted by bwg at 4:20 AM on February 5, 2005


(There are other groups, such as the Tamil Tigers, who are not Muslim, that also use the tactic. But where else in history has it been in common use?

I just got back from a visit to the new National Air & Space Museum (the one outside Dulles airport). They have there on display a Japanese kamikaze airplane. Actually, it's more like a flying bomb, meant to be piloted only once (and therefore a bit light on the creature comforts like padded seats). Hundreds of these were used during WWII.

Yes, I know, not against civilians per se, but still - the idea of killing yourself in what you think is an act of warfare predates the Palestinians by quite a while.
posted by laz-e-boy at 6:00 AM on February 5, 2005


I don't understand the assumption that a terrorist bomb would be some cobbled together piece of junk made with twine and duct tape. These are well funded, well trained and sophisticated operations. The people who build the bombs hold positions of honor and are often trained engineers. These aren't a bunch of malcontents hanging out in Moms basement reading a downloaded copy of the Anarchists Cookbook and it almost seems that there us an underlying assumption on the part of some that the Palestinean terror groups lack the intelligence or ability to make such a device.

As dhartung points out, the authorities know exactly what these look like and the photos were released by those in the best position to know -- "photos released by Israeli Anti-Terrorist personnel." As tempting as it is to bash gun toting rednecks that doesn't seem to be the case here.
posted by cedar at 6:30 AM on February 5, 2005


For those doubting Thomases who fail to understand the reasons why these devices look like they are made with quality workmanship, try wearing a kevlar vest with ceramic plates one of these days.

Once you do you'll appreciate how much a vest loaded up with metal might weigh, and understand why everything is double stitched and uses heavy grade cordura.

In keeping with the fashion theme: if you think a wardrobe malfunction could be embarrassing for Janet Jackson, imagine the look on a Palestinian's face when their explosive girdle slips at the local checkpoint.
posted by furtive at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2005


I like the sewing machine in the background. Probably useful in case this genuine vest tears or something.

I have read that the groups coordinating an attack can be large, but that's a logistics issue, unrelated to the cost of bomb manufacture. I imagine some people are sent out well outfitted, and some are not, depending on the nature and target of their "mission".

A cursory google turned up these vests and explosives, as well as payload that doesn't appear to be 1/4-20 bolts.

This (agenda) is the closest I could find to a "worldwide" conference on terror in Charleston. It's also the only conference listing matching "terrorism" in the Charleston Chamber of Commerce.

I just don't like being taken for a ride, or even offered one.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 9:10 AM on February 5, 2005


Using technology as a justification for one's moral position is what is reprehensible: primitive, homemade weapons bad, high tech mass destruction weapons good. These vests have killed a tiny fraction of the number of innocent civilians that we have killed in Iraq. While these vests make death more horrifying to contemplate for sure, the killing they wreak is death just the same. And until we cease valuing one kind of killing over another, the killing will not stop.
posted by derangedlarid at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2005


probably isn't usually intended to be shaped per se but to disperse as randomly and widely as possible

Which is why you want to go with loose nuts and bolts. If you're walking into a building or someplace quiet, well laminate away. But outside, where most attacks occur? There's rattling everywhere.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:27 AM on February 5, 2005


Fake. Here's another real one.
posted by runkelfinker at 11:40 AM on February 5, 2005


Weapons used by poor oppressed people just aren't as cool as weapons used by rich people to kill poor people at a distance.

Do you think for a minute that those who strap these vests onto people wouldn't use rich people weapons if they had access to them?
posted by Cyrano at 9:50 PM on February 6, 2005


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