Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing: Sincerity isn't Truth

Bombs exploded Monday afternoon, near the end of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed. Many more were wounded, some severely. Some lost limbs.

I think killing innocent people is wrong, and that being present at the Boston Marathon is not an offense which deserves death.

Later, the FBI released images of two young men. We were told that they were suspects, presumed armed and dangerous. Not long after that I read that a substantial part of the Boston metropolitan area was under lockdown. People were advised to stay inside, and open their doors only to law enforcement officials with proper identification.

That's unusual in American cities, but this was an unusual situation.

The two suspects had been identified as brothers. The older died during an exchange of fire with law enforcement. The other was found hiding under a boat, and extracted alive.

One or the other of the brothers, or both, killed a fourth person before they were stopped: Sean Collier, a police officer at MIT.

I am confident that the suspects are responsible for killing four people and maiming others. I think we've learned from the Steven Hatfill Richard Jewel debacles. (February 15, 2011)

This doesn't seem to have been a rush to judgment based on silly evidence: and the brothers went out of their way to act like armed and dangerous fugitives.

Death and Motives

I would have preferred that nobody had decided to plant bombs at the Boston Marathon. It would have been nice if nobody had been killed.

We don't life in a 'nice' world. Sometimes people decide to to bad things.

I don't doubt that the two brothers thought they were justified in killing innocent people. It looks like their motives were sincere and intense religious beliefs. I don't doubt that, either: but sincerity doesn't guarantee truth.

I've already run into a few juicy conspiracy theories. I don't doubt that folks who are convinced that the Obama administration plotted to kill Marathon runners are sincere. But again: sincerity doesn't guarantee truth.

My guess is that someone has already claimed that the brothers are heroes because they killed:
  • Americans
  • Athletes
  • A
    • Chinese exchange student
    • Catholic
    • Cop
I don't think being at an athletic event, or merely being a member of some group, warrants death:

Defending the Innocent

I would, for several reasons, rather have both suspects alive an in custody. Information is notoriously difficult to extract from dead people, and there are other considerations.

On the other hand, I do not blame the death of the older brother on society, the police, or organizers of the Boston Marathon. In my opinion, someone who had already killed three people at a public event, shot and killed a police officer, and was both shooting at other law enforcement people and tossing explosives, is at least partly responsible for whatever happens to him.

Individuals have a responsibility to defend themselves.

I'm not always happy about how the 'Miranda' rules have been used, but think that due process is a very good idea. That includes limits on what public officials are allowed to do. That said, I am not upset that the 'Miranda rights' were suspended when questioning the surviving suspect.

That's not because I hate Muslims, Chechyans, or people whose last names start with "T."

I've read that there is a 'public safety exception' to the Miranda rules: which allows public officials to protect the innocent. So far, it hasn't been used very often: and I think this week's circumstances warranted a bit of extra caution.

If the exception gets used frequently, or appears to be used selectively against folks with unsanctioned ideas - then, I'll get upset. Not now.

"You Can Read It on the Internet"

I've known folks who really believe in conspiracy theories. Some of them pick a new one at fairly frequent intervals. The folks I know aren't dangerous: just a bit wearisome when talking about what's 'really' behind stuff they don't like.

They're sincere: but, like I said before, sincerity doesn't guarantee truth. I'm convinced that the world isn't really run by the Illuminati, Federal Reserve System, Jews, or lizard men.

I could be a dupe, a fool, or a lizard man trying to control your brain with radio waves from your toaster: but I'm not. Trust me.

It looks like the mother of the suspects believes 9/11 was a government plot to make Americans hate Muslims. I think she's wrong: but a remarkable number of folks seem to believe that 9/11 was an 'inside job.'

I think she's wrong: but like I said, I don't think lizard men are to blame, either.

Grief and Loss

The Tsarnaev brothers did their family no favors this week. I sympathize with their uncle, aunt, mother, father, and the rest of their relatives. I also think their uncle was right: they put shame on their family.

There may be an indication of what may have allowed the brothers to act as they did, in their parents' attitudes and beliefs. That does not mean that I 'blame the parents.' I also think that it's likely that the brothers were influenced by what they saw, heard, and read. That doesn't mean that I blame the Internet, Muslims, or the professor who gave them a syllabus.

I think it is prudent to remember that an individual or two is not necessarily representative of a group.

I put excerpts from news and views about the brothers at the end of this post.1 Here's a very abbreviated version:
"I say Dzhokhar, if you're alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured.

"I respect this country, I love this country. [The bombing] has nothing to do with Chechnya … He put a shame on our family, he put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity."

"Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything else to do with religion is a fraud. It's a fake. We're Muslims. We're ethnic Chechyans."
Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the two suspects
(Joshua Rhett Miller,

The boy's childhood was perfect. Their father was a loving, soft-hearted man.
An aunt of the suspects

"It's real. My son knows all about it. You can read it on the Internet."
Mother of the suspects, quoted by former customer

"She [mother of the suspects] started quoting conspiracy theories, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims."
Former customer of the mother
(Wayne Drash, Moni Basu, Tom Watkins, CNN)

"I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, older suspect, deceased

The suspects were "angels."

Someone is "playing with them."

"If they killed him, then all hell would break loose."
Father of the suspects
Related posts:
News and views:

1 Excerpts from news and views:
" 'We got him!' But now authorities want answers in Boston Marathon bombing" (April 20, 2013)

"Now that police have secured the second of two suspects in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing, the long and meticulous process of examining motives, methods and possible links begins.

"A Justice Department official said Friday the government is invoking a seldom-used public safety exception permitting officials to engage in a limited and focused unwarned interrogation of a suspect - in this case Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - without first reading him his typically assured Miranda rights. That official, as well as a second, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, says Tsarnaev will be questioned by a special interrogation team for high-value suspects.

"The public safety exception not only permits the unwarned questioning of a suspect, but also allows the government to introduce any statement yielded by such interrogation as evidence in court. The exception is triggered when authorities have an objectively reasonable need to protect themselves or the public from a clear and present danger.

"According to media accounts, Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were Mulsims who recently gravitated to a radical strain of Islam, going so far as to post Anti-American, jihadist videos on social-media sites...."

" 'Turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness,' angry uncle of bombing suspect demands"
Joshua Rhett Miller, (April 19, 2013)

"The outraged uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect currently eluding authorities called on his nephew to surrender and to ask for forgiveness from the victims of Monday's blast.

"Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., told reporters outside his home that he last saw Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarneav in 2005 and said he was ashamed of their actions.

" 'I say Dzhokhar, if you're alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured,' a visibly angry Tsarni said, adding that he would have alerted authorities if he knew of his nephews' alleged plan.

" 'I respect this country, I love this country,' the 42-year-old attorney continued. '[The bombing] has nothing to do with Chechnya … He put a shame on our family, he put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.'

"Tsami said the apparently misguided radical Islamic beliefs that may have driven the brothers to kill was horribly warped. Asked what he believed provoked his nephews, Tsarni replied: 'Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything else to do with religion is a fraud. It's a fake. We're Muslims. We're ethnic Chechyans.'..."

"Boston suspects: Immigrant dream to American nightmare"
Wayne Drash, Moni Basu, Tom Watkins, CNN (April 20, 2013)

"They might have fulfilled every immigrant's dream, fleeing a war-torn part of the world and settling into a quiet life in America, one buoyed by aspiration and a will to succeed.

"Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, loved to box. And he was talented. At 196 pounds, he represented New England as a heavyweight in the National Golden Gloves boxing tournament. He wanted to make it on an Olympic team.

"His younger brother, Dzhokar, 19, graduated in 2011 from Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, the alma mater of actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The city awarded Dzhokar a $2,500 scholarship. And he, too, was an athlete -- a wrestler. He was named student athlete of the month and made the state playoffs.

"But something went wrong somewhere....

"It was unclear what might have motivated the brothers to commit the heinous crime they are suspected of carrying out. All day Friday, reporters sought out people who knew them, trying to understand one thing: Why?

"What unfolded was a story typical of the American immigrant narrative: A family originally from the Russian republic of Chechnya fled the brutal wars in their homeland in the 1990s. They moved to neighboring Russian republics before at last arriving in the United States.

"The youngest, Dzhokar, came first with his parents, according to his aunt, Maret Tsarnaev. The older son, Tamerlan, was initially left behind with his two sisters.

"Eventually, they were reunited -- a family of six whose American journey contained elements of a struggle to fit in and success in making a new life...."

"...Friends and acquaintances of the Tsarnaev brothers expressed disbelief. The two men were nice, friendly. Quiet. The kind of guys you'd never even notice or look at twice if you passed them on the street.

"Their aunt spoke with Canada's CTV and described the boys' childhood as perfect. Their father, Anzor, was a loving, soft-hearted man. She said he and his wife, Zubeidat, have moved back to Dagestan, which borders Chechnya.

"Dzhokar came to America on July 1, 2002, as a tourist and asked for asylum, a federal official told CNN. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on September 11 last year.

"There was some dispute over when his older brother arrived. The U.S. official said he came four years later on September 6, 2006, and held a permanent resident visa. But another federal official said Tamerlan first entered the United States on July 19, 2003.

"Alyssa Lindley Kilzer said she often visited the apartment at 410 Norfolk St. in Cambridge, where the Tsarnaevs lived. Kilzer used to get facials from Zubeidat at a local spa but, after she was fired, Kilzer began going to her house.

"She wrote about her experience on her Tumblr blog and said the staircase was crowded with shoes and the house was filled with the noise of arguments, cooking and other household chores. It was hardly spa-like but Kilzer thought Zubeidat gave great facials.

"But she became increasingly uncomfortable going to the apartment because of Zubeidat's growing religious fervor.

" 'She started quoting conspiracy theories, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims,' she wrote.

"Zubeidat told her: 'It's real. My son knows all about it. You can read it on the Internet.'

"Kilzer said she only met Tamerlan once -- he wasn't friendly, she thought...."

"'I don't understand them,' bombing suspect said of Americans" (April 20, 2013)

"The brothers behind Monday's deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon are believed to have come to the U.S. from Chechnya as long as a decade ago, but apparently never fit in with the American culture.

" 'I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them,' the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout with police hours after the pair was identified as suspects, told a photographer in 2009....

"...The father of the suspects, reached in Makhachkala, Russia, characterized his sons as 'angels,' adding that someone is 'playing with them,' he told Fox News.

"Anzor Tsarnaev said his sons were normal young men who loved people. Earlier Friday, he called on Dzokhar to surrender peacefully, but reportedly warned the United States that 'all hell will break loose' if he['s] killed. He told ABC News that he spoke to his sons by phone earlier this week. He said his sons reassured him, saying, 'Everything is good, Daddy. Everything is very good.'

" 'Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you,' Anzor Tsarneav told ABC News. 'Come home to Russia.'

"He continued: 'If they killed him, then all hell would break loose.'..."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.