Boston Marathon attacks: Who did it? Al Qaeda, militias, lone wolf?

Agents from several federal agencies including the FBI and ATF arrive on scene after explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Credit: Reuters
Several federal agencies, including the FBI and ATF, are taking part in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.
Credit: Reuters

The plan behind Monday’s Boston Marathon attack was obvious: to get maximum exposure in front of running TV cameras. But who carried out the attack? On Tuesday investigators still lacked a clear motive.

“The attack could be the work of al Qaeda or an al Qaeda affiliate,” said Dr. James Forest, a professor of terrorism at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, near Boston. “Al Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, often attacks public events. The perpetrator could also be a lone wolf, whether inspired by al Qaeda or not. Or it could be domestic terrorists. In that case, the day would matter more than the target.”

That’s because April 15 was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts – and the last day for Americans to file their tax returns. For most Americans, Tax Day is filled with dread as they rush to fill in complicated forms. For anti-government extremists, it’s a day of rage towards government institutions.

But, noted Forest: “Anti-government extremists usually attack government buildings, as Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma City, not international events.”

According to Alexia Ash, head of North America Forecasting at the political risk firm Exclusive Analysis, the perpetrator’s (or perpetrators’) goal was to cause mass casualties, not to attack buildings or specific people.

In fact, the Boston Marathon may have been a target of convenience. Observers point out that the attack was carefully planned, with the bombs going off at the finishing line, where TV cameras would capture the attack live.

“At other major sporting events like the Olympics or the Superbowl, where staff funnel spectators through security procedures, marathons are relatively easy to access,” Forest said. “Anybody can show up with a backpack.”

That’s likely to change now.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.