A Harbinger? Marathon Attack Called Counterterrrorism’s “Worst Nightmare”


The fact that the FBI in 2011 interviewed suspected marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed Friday, is likely to become a focal point of the post mortem into how the attack was able to be carried out, says the Wall Street Journal. It also speaks to the challenge faced by authorities as terrorism morphs from the complex international plots of a decade ago to small-scale attacks carried out by individuals.

U.S. counterterrorism policy has focused largely on killing terrorists overseas or preventing them from getting into the U.S., but the Boston bombings show how the diffusion of terrorist tactics easily transcends borders. Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution said the Boston attack was likely a harbinger: “We are likely to see this as the future face of terrorist threats to the United States.” he said The case of a small number of radicalized participants who have lived in the U.S. and execute a plot is “the counterterrorist community’s worst nightmare, homegrown, self-radicalizing terrorism that learns its skill set off the Internet.”

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