Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Attacks

Let's be clear - it's far too early to start making conclusions about who was responsible for the attacks on Boston. Having said this, it's still possible to make some observations.

1) Because of the apparent target - the Boston Marathon, the successive nature of the explosions and the day - Patriots day, this incident conforms with the modus operandi of previous terrorist attacks. The injury reports - limb injuries also could indicate fragmentation based improvised explosive devices. As of the time of this writing, Fox News are reporting that further devices have been found and neutralized via controlled explosions.

2) Reports that the cause of the explosions may have been bombs in garbage cans, suggests that the perpetrators may still be at large (UPDATE - Apparently one suspect is in custody at a hospital). However, there may be other suspects at large. This then raises an obvious concern which will dominate much of the FBI response over the next few hours - Where are the perpetrator/s now and do they intend to carry out further attacks? Since the Mumbai attacks, western security services have been extremely concerned by the prospect of a copy-cat style sustained operation in an urban space. I expect that the terrorism alert level will be raised.

3) In terms of responsibility, it's very hard to make a judgement. Islamist extremists (most specifically Sunni Islamist terrorists) have an evident preference for attacking targets that carry heavy symbolism and a close density of individuals (they want to kill as many as possible with as much media impact as possible). Having said this, at the moment, we simply do not know. Some are suggesting that this is unlikely to be terrorism because intelligence would have prevented the attack. That's an absurd suggestion. Often it's only a combination of luck and skill that prevents an atrocity.

One thing is for sure. Boston will endure.

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