Terrorism at the Boston Marathon


That such an iconic event as the Boston Marathon should have had such a terrible ending is condemnable. Three persons, including an 8-year-old boy, who were innocent bystanders, have lost their lives; many have lost their lower limbs; and a large number have been injured, some seriously. The psychological cost which the victims will continue to endure for the rest of their lives is unquantifiable.

This terrible incident is yet another stark reminder that man’s capacity to inflict random violence on his fellow men remains undiminished. Let’s hope the perpetrator or perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to book sooner rather than later, and justice is done for the damage they have caused and the lives they have shattered. Whether the Marathon was a victim of foreign or domestic terrorism is beside the point. There are a lot of hugely alienated persons out there within and outside the US. These persons have twisted feelings and an abiding hate in their hearts which finds expression in terrorist acts.

Contemplating the horror of Boston, my thoughts turned to the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 when Eric Robert Rudolph, a carpenter, exploded a bomb at the event, killing one person and injuring 111 people. Rudolph was apparently motivated in his crime by government sanctioning abortion on demand. He wanted to force a cancellation of the Olympics. According to Wikipedia, Rudolph was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment after three more bombings.

While we tend to focus on al Qaeda, which undoubtedly is a dangerous enemy, we at the same time tend to overlook or underestimate domestic terrorists. This is not a good policy. Another notorious case which comes to my mind is that of the so-called Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who sent explosives by mail a few decades ago to people he did not like. He killed three people and injured 23 others. Kaczynski said he was motivated to start his bombing campaign after watching the wilderness around his home being destroyed by development. It look quite a few years for law enforcement to apprehend Kaczynski, who is currently serving a life sentence. Recently, ricin-laced mail has been addressed to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker. Ricin if inhaled can be fatal. Please recall that anthrax-laced mail was sent in the wake of 9/11 to senior US officials, which caused considerable panic.

Severely alienated persons are capable of committing such acts. The antidote against their nefarious actions is vigilance and more vigilance by law enforcement officials in tandem with alert citizens. We no longer live in an age of absolute security and safety. Let us face reality that there are amongst us people who are alienated, deranged or criminalized to the point of perpetrating random violence. We have to stop them as far as humanly possible before they succeed.


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©2022 Syed Azmat Hassan

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