At first, many people were in shock and did not know what to do. Some civilians ran for safety while others ran to aid those greatly affected by the blasts and unable to help themselves. In total 264 people were injured, 14 of those had lost limbs, and three were killed. It was said that if this act of violence would have happened anywhere other than Boston, the outcome of the events could have easily been much more tragic. Boston has several hospitals in close proximity to the finish line. (Bodden, 2014
During the investigation in determining who was responsible for this act, it will be determined that the bombers are linked to a triple homicide. They will kill in an attempt to evade being captured at all possible costs and to not pay for what they have done to other human beings.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born in Russian territory of Kalmkia. Tamerlan is the oldest of the two brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. Married to an American woman named Katherine Russell who converted to Islam and gave birth to Tamerlan’s daughter. Tamerlan will also be discovered to be responsible for playing a role in triple homicide known as the Waltham murders. Tamerlan was an excellent boxer that was denied the ability to compete in a U.S. competition due to a lack of U.S. citizenship. Russian officials informed U.S. officials to look into Tamerlan because he was discovered to be meeting with radicalized groups and known Russian radical militant. Tamerlan was the leader of the two brothers and authorities wondered if he put fear in his younger brother to follow and obey. Tamerlan was killed in a gun fight with officers only after killing a MIT police officer in an attempt to take the officers fire arm. Tamerlan is considered a lone wolf who has self-radicalized through videos and magazines promoting jihad. (Bodden, 2014)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the younger of the two brothers responsible for the bombings at the marathon. Dzhokhar is also suspected of being involved in the triple homicide known as the Waltham murders. It is thought that he is told what to do by his older brother because he looked to his older brother as a father figure. Dzhokhar made an escape after a gunfight with police that put a whole city on lock down for hours. Later, a resident that was checking on his boat, found him hiding under the cover inside the boat. When he was found he was badly wounded but Dzhokhar survived and is awaiting trial. There are some implications to evidence and his confession because Dzhokhar was not read his Miranda rights when initially questioned and admitted to the bombings. A judge read the rights at a later date during his initial hearing. (Bodden, 2014)
Ibragim Todashev was determined to be a third suspect in the Waltham homicides but was not involved in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Todashev is also a Chechen native who knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev and was friends with one of the Waltham victims. During an interview with FBI agents, Todashev began writing a formal statement implicating Tamerlan and himself to the Waltham homicide. Before signing the statement, Todashev flipped the table and tried to attack the FBI agent who then fatally shot Todashev. (Perlmutter, 2013)
Sheik Feiz Mohammad is an Australian Muslim preacher of Lebanese decent that is known for his Islamic fundamentalism. Mohammad has been known to urge young Muslims to kill infidel non-believers and parents to encourage their children to die as jihadist martyrs. Mohammad created the “Death Series” DVD lectures that encourage Muslims to kill non-believers and die for Allah. He is also known for his lecture “Signs of the Hour” that encourages Muslim parents to guide their children to be jihadists. Mohammad is mostly followed through the Internet and was denounced by Taj El-Din Hilaly, one of Australia’s most senior Islamic leaders. Hilaly felt he was dangerous and should be banned from delivering sermons to young Muslims. (Feiz, 2014)
Anwar al-Awlaki followed by both the Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar, and Major Nidal Malik Hasan who was responsible for the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Hasan was in email communication with al-Awlaki leading up to the shooting at Fort Hood. Anwar is a New Mexico born American cleric that was an operational leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In 1995 al-Awlaki moved to San Diego with his new wife, a cousin from Yemen, and took up a job at a local mosque. It was during this time he developed a hatred for the United States. Al-Awlaki met with the three hijackers involved in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centers months before the attack happened. He gave orders to the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk, to bomb Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 but the attempted attack failed. There have been several other incidents where Anwar al-Awlaki is mentioned as being an inspiration for attacks both completed and failed. Anwar al-Awlaki was killed September 30, 2011 by a U.S. drone while driving down a road in Yemen. (Bergen, 2014)
Makhmud Nidal was the individual that Tamerlan, the oldest brother, went to visit on his trip back to Dagestan. Nidal is a Russian militant member of a rebel group known as Salafists that are highly watched by Russian security forces. Russian police killed him in 2012, but it is thought that he offered financial security for the rebel group in the U.S. to Tamerlan before he was killed.
Defined as Terrorism
The Boston Marathon attack was considered an act of terrorism because of the fact that bombs were places to harm innocent civilians. By somewhat of a vague and disputed definition, this act of terrorism would be defined as domestic terrorism motivated by radicalized religious beliefs. According to 18 U.S. Code subsection 2331, domestic terrorism are acts that are dangerous to human life that are violation of criminal laws and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce civilians or influence government policy by intimidation or coercion within the United States (Terrorism, 2013). The Tsarnaev brothers placed two bombs in a heavily populated area within the United States borders with the attempt to create mass destruction. Their acts were researched, planned, and put into action. The brothers are considered lone wolf terrorists because of being mostly self-radicalized by watching radical leaders over the Internet and researching radicalized reading material. They did not act as a specific organized group or affiliation.
The Waltham homicides were primarily motivated by religious beliefs. Tsarnaev and Todashev felt the three individuals that were brutally murdered were not following their religious beliefs by doing and selling drugs. Radicals believe in an eye for an eye philosophy and therefore will accomplish certain acts for different violations of the teachings. The three victims were slit from ear to ear and had drugs and money placed on their bodies. It is believed that these acts would have been filmed and the one accomplishing the act would have pointed in the direction of the heavens while completing the task. This was also accomplished within the borders of the United States and would be an act of assassination.
It was found out that the Tsarnaev’s brothers initially planned to carry out their attack on July 4. Records show that the older brother, Tamerlan, purchase fireworks on February 6, 2013. They researched the tactic of making bombs through a radical publication produced in the Middle East. The two brothers then began assembling the bombs in Tamerlan’s apartment manufacturing them out of pressure cookers filled with nails, ball bearings, and black powder believed to be taken from the fireworks. Upon completing the bombs well before they intended to, the brothers decided to move the day from July 4 to April 15. The brothers then scoped out the marathon course and decided that the finish line would be the ideal place to proceed with the attack. The day of the marathon, the brothers can be seen on surveillance footage placing backpacks that contained the pressure cooker bombes near the finish line approximately 100 yards apart. After placing the bombs, they remotely set them off creating mass destruction and confusion at the finish line, injuring many and ultimately killing three.
After being identified as the suspects and in an attempt to escape authorities, the brothers killed an MIT officer while trying to take his weapon. They then hijacked a vehicle that was called in as stolen by the owner. During the pursuit the brothers got into a gunfight with authorities that ended up killing Tamerlan. His younger brother fled and was later found hiding in a boat. Authorities found several bombs in the vehicle and at the brother’s apartment. It was later determined that they may have had plans to bomb time square.
At the Waltham triple homicide, the victims knew the suspects and the victims let them into their apartment. Once in the home, the victims were taken to three separate rooms of the house, had their heads pulled back and were slit from ear to ear nearly decapitating their heads. At that point each victim was posed and had drugs and money placed on top of them. At first, investigators thought it was a drug related act until later connecting it with the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The intended target was citizens’ that do not believe the Muslim religion and also Muslims that were not following the teachings or supporting jihad, in a sense. The brother wanted to target innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon to prove a point to the United States for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They just wanted to create mass casualties. As for the Waltham homicide, the target was very specific to three Muslims that were not adhering to the teachings.
Johnathan White states in his text that the victims of terrorist attacks most often do not constitute the real target. The victims are merely to send a message. He also stated that terrorists tend to increase their effectiveness in bombings by applying improved explosive technology to their weapons. (White, 2014)
Intended Political Effect
The intended political effect was to convince the United States to pull out of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Authorities that had found Dzhokhar inside the boat also found a note indicating that the attack was revenge on the United States for their involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan war. The note stated, “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims” (Bodden, 2014).
The bothers wanted to instill fear in the public. This can also be seen in the Waltham homicides. They were trying to show that they are capable of up holding their beliefs and had no issues being martyrs. The brothers truly believe in the eye for an eye concept in the sense that Americans were killing their Muslim brothers so they will kill Americans until the war ends. This can be seen with many jihadist. Tamerlan was also having a hard time gaining U.S. citizenship. He attempted to fight in a boxing competition but could not because he still did not have citizenship. Tamerlan was even more upset when they postponed his citizenship after the FBI investigation as to his trip back to Dagestan to meet with Makhmud Nidal. Tamerlan could have been, in a sense, retaliating for the amount of time this had taken and issues this had caused for him in his life.
The initial reaction at first, for those close to the blasts, was to run in the opposite direction. Others, especially medical personal and doctors stationed at the finish line recovery tents, ran towards the injured knocking down the spectator barriers to get to the injured in a faster manner. They were seen using shirts and belts as tunicates to control excessive bleeding. Within 20 min ambulances were transporting victims, some two per ambulance, to local hospitals. It was this quick response that was one of the factors that kept casualties so low.
Victims were easily and evenly transferred to several local hospitals in the area. Hospitals in that area were prepared for an incident like this. They conduct yearly drills with neighboring hospitals and were over staffed in case of a tragedy such as this occurring. Hospital employees were listening to the emergency broadcast when they heard the marathon had been attacked. They immediately began clearing beds by discharging those that could be discharged and admitting those that needed to be admitted. They also canceled all elective surgeries.
The police department resorted to using twitter throughout the process in securing the scene and finding the victims. The public was using social media to implicate the search for the brothers when they were on the run so police sent out a tweet asking citizens to quit taking pictures and video identifying where police were searching and putting their lives in danger. (Swann, 2013)
This event caused the general public to come together and do what they could to not only captures the individuals responsible for the bombings but also to support victims and families of victims. Several people and businesses submitted photos and videos to authorities to assist in identifying the suspects. Assistance funds were set up to cover medical expenses that victims acquired as a result of funeral costs, injuries, and hospitalizations. The marathon organizers allowed all those that were not able to cross the finish line a slot in the next year’s marathon. Victims also chose to participate in the next marathon to prove they could not instill the fear the bomber were hoping for. Boston came up with the theme “Boston Strong” to encourage people to gather everything they could inside of them to not show fear or defeat. It is thought that the Boston Red Sox came together as a team in support of Boston Strong and that’s what helped them win the World Series that next season.
Bergen, P. Sterman, D. (2014). The man who inspired the Boston bombings. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/11/opinion/bergen-boston-bombing-awlaki-jihadists/
Bodden, V. (2014). The Boston Marathon Bombing. Published by ABDO Publishing Company.
Feiz Mohammad. (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feiz_Mohammad
Hoppel, A. M. (2013). LESSONS FROM BOSTON. Clinician Reviews, 23(6), 24-29. Retrieved from EBSCO Publishing.
Perlmutter, D. (2013). Prelude to the Boston Bombings. Middle East Quartly, 20(4), 67-77. Retrieved from EBSCO Publishing.
Swann, P. (2013). To serve and protect: How the Boston Police used Twitter after Marathon attacks. Public Relations Tactics, 20(6), 12-13. Retrieved from EBSCO publishing.
Terrorism. (2013). Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition
White, J. (2014, 2012). Terrorism and Homeland Security.8th edition. Published by Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.