Robert Pape of the University of Chicago and author of "Dying to Win - The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" gave a talk on the subject and its implications for the US occupation of Afghanistan. He repeats his basic thesis that the central objective of suicide terrorism is to force occupying armies to withdraw from the territories they occupy and backs it up with lots and lots of data. This motivation is as secular as you can get - no 72 virgins involved. He points out that prior to the US invasion of Iraq the biggest group of suicide attacks were conducted by the Tamil Tigers, a Marxist-Leninist/Hindu group, and even among Muslim groups 30% of the attacks were carried out by secular groups such as the PKK. His problem with people associating suicide terrorism with religion - mostly Islam - is that he feels that these misperceptions are "encouraging domestic and foreign policies likely to worsen our situation". One may not agree with all he says but much of what he says is very instructive.