Monday, April 15, 2013

More than a feeling

Couple of thoughts re: today's news:

One of the most unpleasant things about human beings and the world in general is sitting down and trying to figure out "Who would do something like that?" and within about two minutes generating a list that begins with various groups of Muslims that we are effectively warring on, right-wing militia nuts, diehard Tamil separatists, rogue PIRA fanatics and ends up with the ever-popular "random nutter". Homo homini lupus, damn it. We are our own worst enemy.

I cannot express how grateful I am that I do not have to sit my little daughter down tonight and explain the bad thing that happened to her first-grade teacher. I called the school and Mrs. Sammons' family has been in touch to let them know she's okay.

I cannot express how horrified I am that someone else is going to have to sit their little girl or boy down tonight and explain the bad thing that happened to their mommy, daddy, big sister, uncle, or their first-grade teacher...

We must be utterly fucking mad.


EGrise said...

I have a sick feeling it's some assheads upset about paying taxes. Lord, I hope I'm wrong.

FDChief said...

I can't stop circling around the "cui bono?" aspect of this, EGrise.

Here's what I have culled from the reports so far; these appear to have been relatively small devices. Many of them (perhaps as many as half) either failed to detonate or were not activated. There does not appear to have been a warning, and there does not appear to have been (at this moment, at least) anyone claiming these. There doesn't seem to be any particular "pattern"; the locations appear to be almost at random along the run route. There was also some sort of "incendiary device" at the JFK Library, although there doesn't seem to be enough evidence to link it with the others.

The combination of small size, high failure rate, and lack of public claim for responsibility seems to make the larger Islamic groups unlikely culprits. I know this will be an unpopular theory in the Right Blogosphere, but you'd think that an AQ operation or an AQ-affiliate would have been slicker than this.

The other connection that jumps up is the "Patriot Day" holiday and tax day. The actual Patriot Day is 19 APR - McVeigh planned the OKC bombing to coincide with that date - but today is the Monday holiday for that remembrance. The only thing that tends to make me less suspicious of the Right Wingnut axis is the targets; the Marathon and (possibly) the JFK Library? They just don't shout "government oppression" to me. Maybe some right-wing loony will turn up with an explanation, but right now the linkage just seems weak.

So what remains are:

1. Some sort of really out-there minor organization, something REALLY far-fetched; some rogue PIRA dead-ender, an Ulster Nationalist, a Tamil Tiger still red-assed about the fall of Puthukkudiyiruppu four years ago... Or,

2. A lone nutter; some sort of Columbine/Newtown asshole who just wanted to kill a whole bunch of innocent people.

So my guess is the latter. The guy might have a sidebar helping of anti-tax/anti-government fervor. But this just seems way too...chaotic to be an organized terror attack. ISTM it just reeks of the sort of thing that one goofy bastard would come up with.

FDChief said...

I should add that the "lone nutter" theory doesn't preclude the nutter having Islamic issues rather than anti-tax issues. No reason that this couldn't be some Somali or Yemeni expat getting payback for drone strikes.

Syrbal/Labrys said...

I'm allergic to nuts. Literally. And more and more often, metaphorically, too. Lone or otherwise. I am so very tired of people deciding this kind of shit is somehow the answer.

EGrise said...

Agree with your reasoning, Chief. One thing that we know today: the bombs were made in pressure cookers, which is apparently a common technique in Afghanistan.

The usual suspects immediately made the leap to the Taliban, and as the FBI pointed out anyone can read about how to do this on the Internet, but my mind turned to (I'm sorry to say) a returned soldier with first-hand experience.

Again, I hope I'm wrong. But if I'm not I also hope this isn't the tip of the iceberg.

FDChief said...

I think my problem with connecting the dots from this back to the Talibs themselves is that prior to 2001 they showed little or no interest in or presence outside the world beyond Afghanistan. My understanding is that they were - and mostly still are - rubes from the Afghan hills, Islamic hillbillies if you please. The notion of a bunch of bearded Deliverance types managing to get their ordnance into Copley Square just seems unlikely.

Mind you, it might have been some sort of Talib splinter group contracting their dirty work out to someone with local connections. Let's get all conspiracy-theory and postulate some unemployed ex-PIRA type who gets contacted through some Afghan expat who asks, how'd you like a make a couple of quick grand? and deliver the schematics of these cheap little pressure-cooker bombs...

But, yeah, the other possibility is some ex-GI with a bad attitude and experience with dismantling or handling these sorts of things.

But we just don't know at this point, and part of what contributes to that is that the field is so wide. There's a LOT of people out there with lethal axes to grind; some political, some personal, others a complex combination of both.

What may be worse is that we may NEVER find out the who or why. Remember the 2001 anthrax attacks? I'm not sure that that case has ever been conclusively solved. If this is some individual nutbar who is satisfied with no one ever knowing his name he may walk away and we will never find him...

FDChief said...

Here's a quick rundown of some of the "pressure-cooker" type bomb incidents:

February 2013: A bomb hidden in a pressure cooker explodes inside a restaurant in northern Afghanistan, killing five people.

Probable suspect(s): Afghan insurgents

October 2012: French police find bomb-making materials in an underground parking lot near Paris as part of a probe into an attack on a kosher grocery. The discovery includes bags of potassium nitrate, sulfur, headlight bulbs and a container used as a make-shift pressure cooker.

Probable suspects: petty criminals - apparently many Algerian - from AQ-inspired groups in French slums

May 2012: U.S. jurors hear that explosives experts had found a pressure cooker containing smokeless gunpowder and other material in the Texas motel room of a soldier accused of planning to blow up Fort Hood military troops and other personnel.

Suspect: U.S. national

May 2010: One of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing was a pressure cooker, according to a joint FBI and Homeland Security intelligence report issued in July 2010.

Pakistani-American convicted of crime; ties to Pakistani Taliban.

March 2010: Suspected militants attack the U.S.-based Christian aid group World Vision in northwestern Pakistan, killing six Pakistani employees. Officials say the attackers remotely detonated a pressure cooker bomb.

Suspects: Pakistani, Taliban?

March 2006: A series of bombings kill 20 people in India. One bomb — at a temple in the northern city of Varanasi where five people died — was placed in a pressure cooker and detonated by a timing device.

Probable suspects: likely Pakistani - Kashmiris? Talibs? ISI? Several potential groups.

December 2004: Ten accused Islamic militants are convicted for their roles in a plot to blow up a Christmas market in the eastern French city of Strasbourg on New Year's Eve 2000. Authorities say the group had planned to blow up containers packed with explosives, a technique they allegedly learned in Afghan camps.

Suspects: Al-Qaeda French North African cell

August 2002: Explosives packed in a pressure cooker shake a shopping mall in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal. Shops are damaged but there are no casualties.

Suspects - ???? Nepalese Maoist rebels???

So if you're keeping score, that's:

Pakistani "somethings" - 3
French Algerians - 2
Afghans - 1
U.S. soldiers - 1
Nepalese Maoists - 1

So the survey says "Pakistanis" tend to make these things but the standard deviation is pretty damn high. Not sure if this really tells us anything other than "lots of people can figure out how to make these"...