By GLENN SULMASY | OP-ED
The Hartford Courant
4:07 PM EDT, April 16, 2013
Make no mistake: The bombs that went off at the end of the Boston Marathon were acts of terror.
We do not yet know whether they were foreign, domestic or homegrown acts of terror, but nonetheless, they were terrorist acts. Did the bombers act because it was Patriots Day, tax day, punishment for drones, al-Qaida attacks, or even, as some have asserted, to "celebrate" the birthday of Kim Jong Un's grandfather?
One thing is for sure: These attacks remind us, we in the United States are living in a changed world. The scene yesterday in Boston was similar to ones witnessed in war-torn Syria, Iraq or Libya. Truly a horrifying sight. But this is the reality Americans now face. A reminder that the conflict with terror, and those who would employ such means, rages on. The U.S. has prevented many such minor attacks over the past decade — in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Buffalo and other locations. Regardless of limited success, "they" keep trying.
Yesterday, tragically, "they" were successful
No doubt, many theories will circulate over the next few days, weeks, perhaps even months as to the motive or sponsor of the acts. All intelligence reports have shown little chatter occurred before the attacks and, at the time of this writing, no one has taken responsibility. (One suspect was taken into custody, a Saudi national seen acting strangely before the attack and tackled by a citizen after the bomb exploded — but no one should read into this further at this point.)
It is likely the speculation will go on for some time. But the primitive nature of the bombs, and the placement of at least one in a garbage can, reveal an unsophisticated attack. Also, the rapid response of the Boston police, fireman, and emergency personnel helped secure the area and preserve evidence. In so doing, the FBI and local police and others can now better understand the motivation and origins of the attack. Credit, once again, must be given to our first responders as well as the medical personal involved in reacting to a truly unexpected attack.
Regardless, there will be more to follow and we should all remind ourselves that terrorism now impacts the U.S. as a matter of fact. In this case (as in all attacks), it really does not matter who did the act — the fact is the intent of terrorists is the same — to frighten and scare people to promote a certain political interest or action.
Boston needs to respond quickly, and demonstrate quickly, that these cowardly acts will not affect the people, business, industry and great culture of one of America's finest cities. I am confident Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick will rise to the occasion and rally the citizens of Boston to continue their normal day-to-day routines.
While Bostonians go back to business in the next couple of days, I am confident the authorities will determine who, and what, was the catalyst for the disruption of one of Massachusetts' great annual events — Patriots Day/The Boston Marathon.
A day after a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 176 (with many in critical care), Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley perfectly articulated the resolve of Bostonians: "Moments like this and our response to them define who we are."
I began my day Monday reading an op-ed in The New York Times by an alleged al-Qaida fighter imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and ended it perplexed as to who, or why, someone would murder innocent children, such as the 8-year-old killed that afternoon in Boston. Either way, terrorism is now part of the American life — an unfortunate reality we all must confront after the events at the marathon's finish line.
Glenn Sulmasy is a professor of law at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Homeland Security and National Security Law Fellow at the Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C. He is the author of "The National Security Court System – A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror." The views are his own. Contact him on twitter @glennsulmasy.
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