Tonawanda News

Columns

May 8, 2013

Boston's lesson: Closer ties can help

Tonawanda News — As the terror attack in Boston two weeks ago slowly fades to the back pages of the nation’s newspapers and the back of most Americans’ minds, I find myself still with a nagging thought: How could these guys have been stopped?

In particular was a disturbing story in Sunday’s New York Times, talking about a new era in the fight against extremism: that of the do-it-yourself-jihadist.

Just like you can go on the Internet and get instructions about how to make guacamole, you can go online and learn how to make a bomb. And if you’re looking for it you’ll find plenty of encouragement to do so.

Counterterrorism officials told the Times an attack like the one perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers was only a matter of time. Acknowledging that a 9/11-style massive, coordinated assault is extremely difficult to pull off given advances in intelligence gathering and analysis, al Qaida has moved on to sowing seeds of discontent among the persuadable types who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the kind of extremist agenda here in the United States.

The Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, were prime targets. The elder brother, Tamerlan, had failed at his dream of becoming an Olympic boxer. He’d dropped out of college and his hot temper had boiled over into an abusive marriage. 

He was, as his uncle so bluntly put it, a loser — a latter day Stanley from “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The only person in the world who seemed to admire him was his kid brother, Dzhokhar, his partner in crime.

Philip Mudd, a former counterterrorism expert with the FBI and CIA, told the Times most in the intelligence community thought this kind of attack would have happened already.

“Like everyone who looked at the threat matrix every day, I was surprised that this didn’t happen sooner,” he said.

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