Suicide bombers in Afghanistan seem to have the "suicide" part down. The rest, not so much:
In 43% of the bombings conducted last year and in 26 of the 57 bombings traced in this study up to June 15 this year, the only death caused by the bombing was that of the bomber himself. This means that, astoundingly, about 90 suicide bombers in this two-year period succeeded in killing only themselves.
There was one period in the spring of 2006 (February 20 to June 21) when a stunning 26 of the 36 suicide bombers in Afghanistan (72%) killed only themselves. This puts the kill average for Afghan suicide bombers far below that of suicide bombers in other theaters of action in the area (Israel, Chechnya, Iraq and the Kurdish areas of Turkey).
Writing for the always-random Asia Times, Brian Glyn Williams dubs the Afghans the "world's worst suicide bombers" and offers up a few hypotheses for their sorry kill averages. It may be that many are motivated by promised (and presumably flat) payments to families rather than commitment to a cause, and thus have little incentive to maximize the killing of strangers. But Williams seems convinced that many of the bombers, young and culled from backwater villages, are just not very good at blowing up other people:
In one case, they told of a mentally deranged man who threw his vest at an Afghan patrol, assuming it would explode on its own…Others, including a Taliban bomber who was arrested while pushing his explosives-laden car toward its target after it ran out of fuel, appear to be inept beyond belief.