Not easy to guess who bombed the Marathon

Al- Qaeda's Inspire magazine, which tells how to "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom"

Al- Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, which tells how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”

Someone tweeted yesterday that “the race to be wrong first has begun in earnest.” And that is so — we’ve seen wild media reports that there were 12 people killed (so far there are 3, with about 150 injured), that two Saudi nationals were in custody (the police talked to a Saudi student who was injured in the bombing), and more. But there are some things that are known and can serve as a basis for speculation.

First, the bombs were in backpacks placed against buildings behind the spectators on the sidewalk, and most of the victims were on the sidewalk. So the intent was to kill and injure as many people as possible, at random.

Second, the bombs were homemade using non-military explosives, built into pressure cookers. They contained ball bearings and possibly other items in order to increase their effectiveness as anti-personnel weapons. They were detonated by either a timer or a remote control device, which could have been a cellphone or other radio receiver.

The authorities will pick up every fragment they can, examine explosive residue to determine how it was made, look for parts of the control device, etc. Then they will deploy the huge amount of manpower at their disposal to try to determine where the pressure cookers and backpacks were purchased, as well as the control devices and the chemicals used to make the explosives.

They will look at the massive quantity of security camera video, photos and videos made by spectators, news footage, etc. to try to spot whoever placed the bombs. They will check hundreds, maybe thousands of leads that they will be given by witnesses.

They will consider Islamic terrorism, right- and left-wing anti-government terrorism, and terrorism by mentally disturbed individuals. They will consider terrorist organizations here and abroad, and they will consider “lone-wolf” operations.

Rather than too little evidence, there will be too much. It will take time, but I think they will be successful.

So what do I think they will discover?

Does the viciously random nature of the bombing give a clue to the motive? It was directed at people, including children, who would be expected to be among the spectators. Most terrorists pick targets that embody or symbolize their enemies, as Timothy McVeigh chose the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Anti-government terrorists often see themselves as champions of ‘the people’, and would be unlikely to want to randomly kill ordinary citizens (McVeigh claimed that he was not aware of the day care center in the Murrah building).

Ted Kacyznski, the Unabomber, targeted universities, airlines, etc., symbols of the technology that he hated. Even George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of Manhattan, placed devices in public places only after his attempts to draw attention to his grievance against Consolidated Edison by bombing its installations was ignored.

On the other, hand, anti-government terrorist Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, did so to protest abortion and the “homosexual agenda.” Rudolph also bombed abortion clinics and a lesbian bar, but it would have been difficult to deduce his motives from the Olympics bombing alone.

Islamic terrorists often (but not always) perpetrate acts of terrorism aimed at the US in general and its people. Examples include the Times Square bombing attempt, the two World Trade Center bombings, attempted bombings of the Sears Tower, airports, etc. In Israel, of course, mass murder attempts are frequent. The common factor is that the Islamic terrorist sees his enemy as the nation as a whole, and public institutions or citizens as legitimate targets.

What about the bombs? The pressure cooker bomb was described in a DHS bulletin as “A technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.” A description of such a bomb also appeared in al-Qaeda’s English-language “Inspire” magazine. The use of pressure cookers for bombs dates back at least to 2001, so it is certainly possible that the technique is widely known.

It is also true that while no organization has yet taken credit for the bombing as far as I know, radical Islamic web forums have applauded it.

The fact that the explosive is low-grade, non-military material means that a lone-wolf or very small group of terrorists could have carried it out.

In short, based on the information that’s public at this point, it’s not possible to deduce the motive or the likely class of perpetrator. But if I were a betting man, my first guess would be a single Muslim terrorist or a very small group of same.

Update [1816 PDT]: Here’s a picture of what’s left of a pressure cooker that held a bomb. You can be sure the FBI will be checking the stores — everywhere.

Remains of pressure cooker. Courtesy FBI.

Remains of pressure cooker. Courtesy FBI.

Technorati Tags:

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

One Response to “Not easy to guess who bombed the Marathon”

  1. MDA says:

    To quote the article

    “What about the bombs? The pressure cooker bomb was described in a DHS bulletin as “A technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.” A description of such a bomb also appeared in al-Qaeda’s English-language “Inspire” magazine. The use of pressure cookers for bombs dates back at least to 2001, so it is certainly possible that the technique is widely known.”

    The DHS state “A technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.”
    Why not just say “The technique shared and instructed to Islamic Jihadists everywhere by Al Qaeda in Tora Bora before the US invaded Afghanistan.

    What is this maniacal desire not to equate any of this with Islam?

    The Afghan Terrorist training Camps were in Tora Bora where the US military seized all of their training materials. This was the material created by Al Qaeda so as to conduct Islamic Jihad. The material was written in several languages and designated to be share with all Moslem every where. In the same instructional Material Bin Ladin claimed the Jihad was a war between Islam and the West and the Wests religion is Christianity.

    (The foregoing was taught to DHS on anti-terrorism courses form 2002 through 2008)

    The “lets pretend it’s not Islamic Jihad” started immediately after the inauguration in January 2009.

    The use of the term Al Qaeda was hoped to replace the reality of “All Jihadist Muslims in eery Country attack the west”. Compartmentalizing Islamic Terrorist into named terrorist groups is like pretending that the SS wanted to kill Jews and that it was not German Nazis who were bad.

    The so called secularist of Western Democracy claim they just don’t get it because the west is not Christian , and that Islam is therefore not a war against the West. Islamic Jihadists are however at war and the forefathers of today’s western world were indeed Christian and that is all that matters to Islamic Jihadists. Pretending that Islamic Jihad is not the leaven altering the entire lump of Islam is why Jihad will succeed…against the West.