It doesn’t really matter who bombed the Boston Marathon… It only matters that they did and it’s giving others ideas.
Since the bombs going off at the Boston Marathon people have been trying to assess who it is that did it more so than a why they did. Of course knowing the who you will know the why especially if the bombers make a statement. To date no statements have been made and thus great speculation has been given by the talking heads in the media anyone from Clint VanZandt (Former Quantico Profiler) to the odious Evan Kohlmann. None of these people though really are offering any information into the real problem we have post the explosions at the finish line on Monday and that problem is the precedent set by the act itself.
Of course bombings have happened here in the past throughout our history but today we have one more twist to the picture that we should be paying attention to. That twist is that we are in a global war on terror against various groups that all have a goal of terror. In the case of the Islamic terrorists their goal is a global caliphate at the heart of the hard core heart and mind. It would be folly to think that this is the topmost goal of all of these people though and at the end of the day it all just comes down to people acting out to sow terror and death. In the case of this incident we still have no idea why it was done and even the jihadi’s online and I am sure behind the scenes are asking the same question as to who did it. As of today all we know is the method of the bombings (sort of) and that we have one or two UNSUBS that may be on video or in photos just before the explosions and this is making people even more on edge.
However, attribution and the reasons for the attacks are only one dimension of the problem and it should be noted that this event has opened a door for the Jihad as well as possibly other actors who wish to sow terror. This is not new as I said before, but, it is new that we have a call from the likes of AQAP/Al-Malahem/AQ to carry out “Lone Wolf Jihad” that may in fact have been heeded by someone or a small group of jihadi’s. If this is in fact the case then consider pandora’s box being opened with this successful attack. Alternatively, if this was carried out by another form of extremist (such as the militia types or so called “domestic terrorists”) the same Pandora’s Box has been opened because in the end, the attack was carried out and succeeded in it’s goals of death, terror, and FUD. This event is a win/win for the like minded and that is what is being played out on the Jihadi boards as we speak.
Inspiration and Aspiration
For 3 years now AQAP/Al-Malahem has been putting out “Inspire Magazine” and entreating the Ummah of the West to jihad. More recently they began a campaign to spur the Westerners to so called “Lone Wolf” acts because it seemed that they lacked the ability to reach out here themselves. They began offering tutorials on how to make IED’s and offered tactics and targets for the eager Westerner to carry out. These magazines met with little success in getting a jihobbyist to make a bomb in their mothers kitchen until possibly now. The pressure cooker IED’s are not that hard to make and the plans were in fact in a recent issue of Inspire but in reality if you have an internet connection you can get them fairly easily. So could it be a Jihadi Lone Wolf? Sure, could it be some other extremist? Sure, but in the end on a macro scale it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the reaction by other groups and individuals.. Copycats if you like, who look at the events of Monday and start to think “I can do this too if they can” What is being seen on the jihadist boards already is talk about how Inspire had it right and that they should be praised for their work. The poster above asks questions about the modus operandi and concerns over security but generally begs the question over strategy. Responses to this post are on the whole affirmative that Inspire was right and that smaller attacks are the way to go. Inciting fear and hitting soft targets is what they need to do to torment the “Crusaders” and in reality this is the scary bit.
AQ had a HUGE win with 9/11 and since then the tactic has been on average to attempt another one of as grand or on a grander scale. This has not worked on the whole so the notion of smaller attacks was pivoted to by AQAP. They have finally set a goal of not just hitting a plane with an underwear bomb or a cartridge bomb but now are looking to go to a mall and shoot it up or to blow up a car on a busy freeway. Small scale, low tek attacks I believe are going to become the norm for not only the jihad but also the domestic terrorist as well. This is what has to be taken from the events of Monday’s bombing as well as the efforts of trying to find out who did it and to prosecute them.
Whether or not this is a Jihadi lone wolf or some other attacker the tactics of the attack should be the worrisome bit. The bombs themselves are low tech (smokeless powder and ball bearings in pressure cookers) which could be made by anyone. The components are easily obtained cheaply and the whole operation could be carried out with as little money spent as a couple hundred dollars. The choice of soft targets like the marathon show’s astute planning and there are hints that they may have in fact studied the marathon and thought this through a bit on detonation time to have mass casualties as well. All of this could be carried out by person(s) easily enough without oversight from AQ/Taliban just like Inspire attempts to evoke in their “lone wolves” At the end of the day we may in fact see that Inspire was in fact the inspiration for this attack.. If not, then from what I am seeing on the boards post the attack I for one believe, that they now have even more inspiration to carry these attacks out.
Cause and Effect
At the base of this whole post though I want to get across the idea that one attack can breed copycats. Copycats all can get the plans and tactics for such attacks online easily through a Google search and as such the ease of locating the data and using it has increased tenfold. It remains to be seen just how much of an impetus this attack has been on those nearly ready to carry out their own terror plots but given that we are now seeing concurrent letters laced with Ricin sent to the President and Congress (also shown in how to’s from the jihadi’s and others online) one has to wonder if they are part of the original plot or copycats. It’s my belief that a scale has been tipped and that we may be in for some more tough times ahead. I personally not seen things this polarized since the 60’s when we had the creation of the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers. Imagine now more groups with access to the reams of information on the internet and their capacities to carry out terror were they of a mind to do so.
Time will tell.