Today marks the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Last year, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring more than 260 others. It was the first successful large-scale terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11. Unlike the attacks on the Pentagon and Twin Towers, however, the attackers in Boston were life-long residents of the United States, and they radicalized in this country and in isolation.
One year later, Boston is preparing for the marathon, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev awaits trial on murder and terrorism charges. Even as the country moves past this terrible attack, there are serious domestic terror threats growing around the country. Arguably, the shootings at two Jewish community centers in Kansas City on Sunday by “raging” white supremicist Frazier Cross were a case of domestic terrorism.
Overall, Boston is healing but the threat remains. Here is an article by Security Debrief contributor Erroll Southers about Boston and the road ahead in homeland security.
One Year After Boston Bombing, Homegrown Extremism is Still a Lethal Threat
Almost a year ago, two bombs erupted at the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people, injuring 264 others, and reminding America that the threat from domestic terrorism is ever-present. The Boston bombing was a watershed moment in the ongoing saga of US homeland security. It was proof positive that the theater of the war on terror is no longer on foreign soil. Even as sporting events today receive closer security scrutiny, we face a diverse threat from homegrown violent extremism that can rear its deadly head any time, any place.
As it happens, when the bombs exploded at the marathon, I was sitting at my desk completing the manuscript of my first book, Homegrown Violent Extremism, in which I called another terrorist attack “inevitable” and stated definitively that this attack would come from domestic extremists. I was shocked by the attack in Boston, but sadly, I was not surprised. Everyone in the counterterrorism community knew this day would come, eventually.
The recognition that homegrown extremists present a growing and deadly threat is gaining wider notice, which is critical for our homeland security efforts. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report, “Jihadist Terrorism: A Threat Assessment,” six months after the Boston bombing, in which the “Threat at Home” was the lead issue. It explained that the kind of attack we saw from the Tsarnaevs is indicative of the wider threat America faces. Homegrown extremists may be more likely to attack individually (the much-feared Lone Wolf) or in pairs and not necessarily as a part of larger cells with ties to transnational terrorist groups or nation states. And while the BPC report looked specifically at the “jihadist threat” (what I call the “Muslim Identity ideology” in my book), we know that homegrown terrorists can be motivated by a diverse collection of ideologies.
Read the full article.