Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb exploded around 2:50 p.m. in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. Thirteen seconds later, another bomb exploded several hundred feet away.
President Obama, speaking at the White House, vowed to bring those responsible for the blasts to justice, but cautioned people from “jumping to conclusions” based on incomplete information. However, the next day Barack Obama branded the attack an act of terrorism but said officials didn't know "whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual".
None of the terrorist organizations has claimed responsibility for Boston blasts yet. Meanwhile, a massive explosion took place at the West Fertilizer Plant in the small Texas town of West , killing up to 60 or 70 people and injuring about 200. The deadly explosion at plant was more likely an accident, but terrorist attack is not ruled out.
ForUm has asked experts about how to estimate the most serious terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 and whether it will cause a wave of explosions in both America and other countries.
Oleksandr Sushko, scientific director of the Institute of Euro-Atlantic cooperation:
- There are not enough facts to speak about organizers of the bombing. It might have nothing to do with global terrorists nets or political motives. However, this tragedy is the key event of the year, which will influence the political landscape and careers of politicians. This event is definitely a trial not only for law enforcements and special services, but also for US politicians.
Oleksiy Garan, political scientist, professor of political science in Kyiv-Mohyla Academy:
- The American side has already declared that the bombing was organized by non-professionals. If this version is confirmed, then there will be big difference between these blasts and the terrorist attack of 2001. The latter was organized by radical, well-structured organization, while this attack was carried out by individuals.
In any case, we have to wait until the end of investigation. Unfortunately, it is impossible to forecast whether similar terrorist attacks will take place again in US. None of the countries is safe from various forms of terrorism.
Hryhoriy Perepelytsia, doctor of political sciences, principle of the Institute of foreign policy, professor of Kyiv National University:
- I consider this attack as an attempt of the international net of terrorist organizations, previously headed by Osama bin Laden, to recall of itself. Due to the latest tendency of multipolarity, the United State loses its influence on the world arena. As a result, it decreases motivation of terrorists to carry out active attacks and, consequently, terrorist nets lose their influence. Moreover, the killing of Osama bin Laden and NATO actions against talibans in Afghanistan have decreased the influence of terrorist organization even more. Thus, they just want to remind that they still have influence and pose a threat.
I believe nobody has taken responsibility for the bombing because it was not an act of the remains of the system of international terrorism, but a local act. The blasts were aimed not at killing many people, as on September 11, but at the attempt to check in.
If similar bombing happens again, it still will be sporadic cases, which do not make the whole picture. Despite Boston bombing, international terrorism is losing its global influence.
Evhen Leshan, political expert:
- Terrorism is no longer the same as 50 years ago, when it was, first of all, a radical manifestation of a political position. Now, hearing about a terrorist act, the question arises - сui prodest (who benefits). It can be advantageous for Washington, or for some unknown radicals, but hardly for Islamists. In professional language, it was a "different signature" - homemade bombs, strange choice of time for bombing (three hours after the majority of participants in the race had crossed the finish line and the crowd of spectators was not thick).
Anyway, they hit the sacred. Boston marathon is not just sport, but a civil action uniting people. It's like a local holiday of unity and peace. The recent race gathered about one million spectators. To blast such event is like to blast the Olympic Games.
Indeed, it could be an act of unsatisfied individual. For the past ten years, young people are used to see the real world as a computer game. Mass media often reports that this or that teen or even an adult committed a crime, because they have seen it in a computer game or internet. Year after year the planet is taught cynical and egoistic mindlessness, and then they are surprised with the results of such education.
Volodymyr Ohryzko, former foreign minister:
- What happened in Boston is a tragedy. All of us have to stop and think about the reasons of such events. Terrorism is unpredictable, and it is difficult to understand what is going on within this movement. I think Boston bombing is a regular warming that we need to change this world, to seek new ways to fight and prevent terrorism and reasons that cause it.
Oleh Grytsayenko, deputy director of the Center for international and comparative study:
- Boston bombing seems to be a local terrorism, not an act of some international terrorist net, like in 2001.
The United States is affected by the crisis and unemployment. Such social problems cause dissatisfaction within the American society. Moreover, under Obama's rule, the number of so-called white patriotic organizations has increased. Such organizations are not happy with 'black' president, with his policy on liberalization of immigration and weak foreign policy in general.
Even if it was an act of some international terrorist cell, I doubt the war will follow these events. In 2001 President Bush changed the foreign policy of the US. After the end of cold war, a new enemy was found, and all forces were focused on this enemy - international terrorism.
However, such policy prevailed before Barrack Obama came to office. Nowadays, the President is in no mood for holy crusades, as he is focused on inner problems. Moreover, many facts of the Boston bombing testify about involvement of American citizens, not foreign forces.
Vitaly Kulik, director of the Research Center for civil society problems:
- Analyzing any event, we should look at the whole picture. In this case, the matter concerns not only the bombing itself, but its consequences and real meaning. In this respect, different versions of September 11, 2001 attack come to mind. For example the version, according to which the attack was organized not by "evil Islamists", but by certain circles of the United States, interested in strengthening of country's influence on the international arena. It is not a secret that 9/11 help to "boost the moral" of Americans and justify military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, "here and elsewhere". In early 90s, it was difficult to imagine that the US and/or the EU could occupy Iraq, let alone Libya.
Thus, regardless of real organizers of the attack, we cannot rule out that the event will be used by certain circles for regular "nation building", for obtaining additional means for defense, intelligence, etc. Moreover, terrorist attacks in large cities bring fear, and we all know that scared people are easier to control. I want to add that for the past years Obama's administration has launched a number of programs formally aimed at prevention of terrorist attacks by American citizens, including the project "If You See Something, Say Something". It is not difficult to imagine the effect expected by law enforcements.
On the other hand, we cannot rule out inhumane right tendencies. Take for example, Norwegian shooter Breivik. He was not invented by Oslo or Brussels. Such moods are generated by social problems and despair, and in the result manifest themselves as depersonalized violence (you never know who might get hurt in a blast - this time it happened to an 8-year-old boy and a young Chinese woman).
Nikolai Pakhomov, political scientist (US):
- Boston bombing can open a new page in the anti-terrorism campaign of the US. The fact that nobody has taken responsibility is especially scary. The terrorist act was well planned. The bombs were concocted from pressure cookers loaded with nails and ball bearings. Explosions turned the marathon into a bloodbath. It's like killers wanted to prove they were in control, and they did proved it.
It will be even worse if it turns out that the responsible are not foreign fanatics, but American citizens. And this is not the worst. The worst is if it turns out that the responsible are not just Americans, unhappy with foreign policy, but followers of extremist views in the domestic policy. For the past years, the political discussions in US have become more hateful and violent. If violence prevails, the situation will go from bad to worse.
Moreover, the bombing happened on Patriots Day, a Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the opening battles of the American Revolutionary War. The chosen date of attack obviously bears political implication...
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