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University of New Haven terrorism expert discusses suicide bombers

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NEW HAVEN--Tuesday's terror attack in Istanbul, Turkey marks a pattern that terrorism expert Dr. Vesna Markovic has been tracking since the early 1990s.

"In the '80s, there were probably only about 50-ish carried out," said Dr. Markovic of terrorist attacks. "In the '90s, you had about 105. And then after 2000...I'm counting close to 4,500 carried out worldwide."

Dr. Markovic, an assistant dean at the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice, said suicide bombings were reported in only three countries in the 1980s. Today, they have happened in nearly 50 countries.

Suicide bombings give terrorists a way to fight back against more sophisticated militaries that have tanks and fighter jets.

"They consider it sort of a smart bomb," explained Dr. Markovic. "If they go into an area that's not crowded, they can go somewhere else and detonate. They don't have to plan for an escape route because they're going to be dead."

The bombers generally operate under the direction of a group, such as ISIS. They are usually young men between ages 16-24. Dr. Markovic noted she knows of girls as young as 8 years old in Nigeria who were strapped with explosives.

Suicide bombings are extremely difficult to prevent. In Istanbul, two security checkpoints -- including one at the airport's entrance -- could not stop Tuesday's attack. The strategy becomes one of minimizing the damage.

"It's just minimizing casualties instead of being able to prevent an attack because...how do you stop somebody who's willing to die?"

After the Oklahoma bombing in 1995, Dr. Markovic said obtaining explosives in the U.S. became much more difficult. For that reason, she sees bombings as being less of a worry.

"Here, obviously in the U.S., it's easier to get a gun so you might have -- I would see that as more of a problem like what we saw in Orlando," said Dr. Markovic.