Who Did It, And Why?

There have been no significant developments in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, and that in and of itself is noteworthy.

No terrorist group or domestic fringe organization has stepped up to claim responsibility for the attack — but the information about the nature of the explosive devices used establishes that the bombs were carefully constructed to achieve maximum carnage.  The bombs apparently were built in pressure cookers and were loaded with ball bearings, nails, and other metal objects, and much of the damage to the innocent people nearby was caused by the effects of the intentional shrapnel.  The death toll from the blast now stands at 3 — including an 8-year-old boy — and more than 170 were wounded.  My heart aches for them and their families, and I know that my feelings in that regard are not unique.

What would motivate a person to build bombs that would tear off the limbs of random, unlucky people who just happened to be in the vicinity when the bombs exploded?  It’s hard to imagine that even the most disturbed domestic group would think that injuring participants in the Boston Marathon would win converts to a cause, or make a meaningful statement about an issue.  Even accepting that the targets of terrorist acts are selected through a twisted, hateful analysis, why would the Boston Marathon even be considered?  How would an event that features everyday people running through city streets be viewed as a suitable object for an attack?

We need to find out who did this, and why.

The Boston Bombing

The awful story about bombs exploding near the finish line of the Boston Marathon demonstrates that — unfortunately — we’re probably always going to have to be on the lookout for terrorism here in the United States.

The bombs killed two people, left a number of others in critical condition, and injured more than 100 people.  At this point, details about the incident are still sketchy, and it likely will be some time before final information becomes available.  Preliminary reports indicate, however, that there were multiple bombs, that they did not include high-grade explosive material, and that there were other devices that failed to explode in what appears to have been a coordinated attack.

As I write this, no organization has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the cowardly, murderous attack.  Of course, that doesn’t stop people from speculating about whether the attack was the work of foreign terrorists, or a domestic group, or someone angered by having to pay their taxes.  It’s hard to see why a domestic group or anti-tax zealots would target the Boston Marathon, but terrorists aren’t exactly known for their rational thought processes.

The frightening aspect of this attack, viewed from the standpoint of a suburban home in the middle of Ohio, is its terrible randomness.  One moment runners and their families and friends are celebrating finishing America’s most famous marathon, and the next people are sprawled in the street, injured and bleeding and dying.  It makes you wonder about the security of any large gathering of people, whether it’s a baseball game or a rock concert or a state fair.  Of course, the whole idea of terrorism is to make people cower in fear and change their habits — which means the best way for all of us to combat the terrorists is to go about our business, undeterred by the efforts to sow fear.

I’ll try to do that, but I’m sure I’ll be uneasy about it.