Analysis: Five dangerous myths about the Boston Marathon bombings

Investigating the Boston bombingsBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The endless opinion pieces about the Boston bombings that have flooded the media-sphere since Monday have one thing in common: they are highly speculative and, for the most part, unreliable. At this early stage, nobody outside the security or intelligence establishments has any idea about the identity or motives behind the attacks —and if they say they do, they are lying. Even those on the inside routinely refer to the ongoing investigation as one of the most complex in the country’s post-9/11 history. As the probe continues, and the nation deals with the meaning of the Boston bombings, it is critical that some of the dangerously misinformed and premature notions about the attacks are dispelled.

To begin with, the Boston Marathon bombings were not necessarily terrorism. They were clearly calculated and indiscriminate, but in order for them to qualify as terrorism, their planners must have a broad political or ideological objective. Terrorism is a tactic used to further a political goal. There is a reason why we don’t refer to school shootings, such as the one that took place on December 14, 2013, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, as terrorism. They are calculated and extremely violent, but they do not contain a political motive. Before we can attach a terrorist label to the Boston bombings, we have to uncover the motive of the perpetrator(s). Barring that, the incident must be treated simply as a criminal act. Read more of this post

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Technical analysis offers first clues about Boston Marathon bomber(s)

Site of one of the Boston Marathon blastsBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Counterterrorism experts probing Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon are bound to start searching for the culprits by focusing on the technical specifications of the attacks. According to the Boston Police Department, three people were killed and at least 144 were injured —many of them critically— by the blasts, which rocked downtown Boston at 2:45 p.m. local time. The second explosion was carefully timed to coincide with the initial blast, and occurred just ten seconds later, fewer than 100 yards down the road from the site of the first explosion. At least one report stated that law enforcement teams found and dismantled up to five additional devices at the site, which had failed to detonate. But one police official later denied these reports, saying that “closer examinations led [the police] to doubt that [the devices] were bombs”. If additional devices were indeed present at the site of the blast, it is likely that they failed to detonate due to the collapse of the wireless network in Boston, which was knocked down by a sudden spurt in usage following the initial blasts. If, as it appears, these bombs were types of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and if suicide terrorism was not involved, chances are the devices were remotely triggered using the diodes commonly found inside the speakers of inexpensive cell phones. Depending on the constitution of the bombs themselves, they could contain ball bearings, screws, or other metal fragments stuffed inside a container around some type of explosive. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0113

  • US intelligence caused change in missile shield plans, says Gates. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the Obama administration’s decision to abandon the previous administration’s plans for a land-based missile defense system in Eastern Europe came about because of a change of the alleged threat posed by Iran in US intelligence reports. But he also said that the Bush administration plans will not be scrapped. The land-based missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic will be replaced by missile interceptors aboard US naval ships.
  • Canada preparing big balloon (?) to spy on Taliban. The Canadian armed forces are testing a large white balloon equipped with an on-board spy camera, which will be used in Afghanistan to detect improvised explosive devices. Depending on the exact camera used, the system could have a surveillance range of five to twenty kilometers.
  • Portugal’s secret services deny spying on president. Portugal’s SIS secret service agency was forced to issue a rare public statement last week, denying having spied on the country’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, of the Social Democratic Party, just 10 days before a closely-fought parliamentary election. Silva is Portugal’s first right-wing head of state since the end of the dictatorship in April 1974.

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