Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

28 responses to “Terror as we celebrate asymmetrical warfare”

  1. leftyrite

     
     
    And now, we are colonized again, as is much of the world.

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  2. Len Katzman

     
     
    Bob: Very interesting perspective. I don’t disagree with your general observation that the American revolutionary patriots were fighting, at least at times, what we now call asymetrical warfare and there are lessons to be learned here today.
     
    But I have to call you out on your statement that, “Someone put a few bombs in downtown Boston yesterday for the same reason colonial early Rhode Islanders burned the Gaspee: with the hope that it would be the response that is heard ’round the world.”
     
    We have no idea who did the bombing or for what reason. If it was an international terrorist group, then maybe their reasoning was a hope that it would be heard ’round the world. But if it was a domestic terrorist, they might care less what the world thinks and care only about the act being heard ’round America. Or, if it was some lone crazed sadist, who knows what insane reason they might be pursuing.
     
    As poetic as your conclusion is the facts are simply not yet available sufficient to propose what anyone’s “reason” for such a heinous act could possibly be.
     

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    1. turbo

      “We have no idea who did the bombing or for what reason.” Yes, we do.
      Terrorism is always intended to resonate widely, for ideological purposes.
      “if it was a domestic terrorist, they might care less what the world thinks and care [more] about the act being heard ’round America”
      First, the shot heard ’round the world, was not actually heard ’round the world. The expression’s a bit of nationalistic hyperbole.
      Second, the Boston Marathon is an event with international prominence. In fact, it is more prestigious internationally than it is nationally. Whoever bombed the marathon knew very well that the bombing would make the international news.
      Selecting the Boston Marathon as a target is very different from choosing opening day at Fenway, for example.
      Ultimately, the point is that terrorists think hyperbolically and their acts try to live up to the hyperbole–and they almost do. Whoever did this believes in a mythology of violence. Bob is exactly right.
      Well, except that the burners of the Gaspee had another motive, alongside sending a message to the Crown: they wanted to continue their smuggling.

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      1. DogDiesel

        …or it could be some nut that just wanted to kill and maim for no reason other than mental illness. I agree with Len.

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        1. turbo

          “for no reason other than mental illness” The bombing was sophisticated. Two detonations less than half a minute apart. Possibly remotely detonated.
          The only kind of mental illness that would evade all ideology would be some kind of raving lunacy, and a raving lunatic could not carry off an operation like this.
          Get past your comic book worldview. The Joker didn’t do this.

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          1. DogDiesel

            I’m only suggesting that there isn’t enough information yet that points to an ideological motive. In my two semesters of criminalistics training, one of our class projects was to make a mock bomb complete with a timing device and secondary ignition device. If you think a raving lunatic couldn’t put that together then your speaking out of school. That was ten years before the premier of Google. Stick with what you know, critiquing vocabulary.

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            1. turbo

              “I’m only suggesting that there isn’t enough information yet that points to an ideological motive” I know, and I’m telling you that you are wrong.
              This was an act of terror carried out by a person with sophisticated technical knowledge of bomb-making. There was ideology in this.
              “In my two semesters of criminalistics training, one of our class projects was to make a mock bomb”
              You just proved my point.
              You just said that it takes a year’s worth of tertiary-level training to make this kind of bomb.
              If you want to argue that a raving lunatic could get and retain such training, then you’re either being willfully contrarian or attempting a Lou Costello-level joke set-up.
               
               
               
               

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              1. DogDiesel

                What is your evidence?

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          2. Sully

            Sophisticated?
            Per the NY Times:
            “The explosives that killed three people and injured more than 170 during the Boston Marathon on Monday were most likely rudimentary devices made from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers…with nails, ball bearings and black powder, and the devices were triggered by “kitchen-type” egg timers, one official said.”
             
            Perhaps your “expertise” is in line with the NY Post editorial board:
            http://www.theonion.com/articles/this-is-a-tragedydoes-it-really-matter-exactly-how,32076/

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            1. turbo

               
               
              “The person who made this type of weapon had some type of training or at least some type of practice. It wasn’t a ­Molotov cocktail, but it wasn’t a truck bomb. It was between the two. It’s low capability, but something that would require training or practice to produce.”
               
              http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/04/16/investigation-mourning-continues-wake-attacks/CBCSq3ABN1H8Z5nqyatCWM/story-1.html
               
              This was not anything like a mass shooting where a guy takes up standard-issue weapons, walks face-first into a crowd and starts shooting with the expectation of being caught or killed.
               
              This operation was meticulously planned and precisely executed. The bombs went off with precision and at the very height of the marathon, when the crowd would be at its thickest.
               
              The bombing took place on Patriot’s Day, which was also Tax Day, which is also within spitting distance of the anniversary of Waco and Oklahoma City.
              The perpetrator is at large.
              This was an act of terror.
               
              If you want to excuse this bombing as the work of a raving lunatic, because that’s the explanation that makes you most comfortable, well, that’s your prerogative. But the facts do not support your interpretation.

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              1. Sully

                Or I can wait more than two days to see what an investigation into the attack uncovers, rather than play armchair detective and pretend to be an expert.

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                1. turbo

                  “I can wait” No, you can’t. You just posted information on the bombs to argue that they were unsophisticated.
                   
                  You drew a conclusion about the nature of the bombings, based on the same evidence you also claim is inconclusive.
                   
                  “pretend to be an expert”
                   
                  I’m quoting experts.
                   
                  Here’s another:
                   
                  “The sophistication of the plans – creating bombs filled with shrapnel and detonating them at the height of Marathon Monday – indicates the bombings were done at the hand of a terrorist individual or group, said Genest.”
                   
                  http://www.630wpro.com/common/page.php?pt=NEWS:+Bomber+was+%22Montana+whack+job%22+or+Al+Qaeda+operative&id=11143&is_corp=0
                   
                   
                  And another:
                   
                  “They were smart enough to know all that, to have thought about it. That, to me, shows a level of sophistication or training,” Mr. Cloonan said.
                   
                  http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/16/ex-bin-laden-hunter-boston-bombing-sophisticated/?page=all
                   
                  And another:
                   
                  “TORONTO – The Boston Marathon bombing was a sophisticated and carefully thought out terrorist attack, according to an explosives expert.
                   
                  “I saw the first explosion, then I saw the second explosion and I immediately knew it was a terrorist act,” Ron Craig, a pyrotechnics professor who has advised the RCMP and FBI about explosives said Tuesday in Toronto.
                   
                  http://www.torontosun.com/2013/04/16/hallmarks-of-sophisticated-attack-at-boston-marathon-expert
                   

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                2. turbo

                  “I can wait” No, you can’t. You just posted information on the bombs to argue that they were unsophisticated.
                   
                  You drew a conclusion about the nature of the bombings, based on the same evidence you also claim is inconclusive.
                   
                  “pretend to be an expert”
                   
                  I’m quoting experts.
                   
                  Here’s another:
                   
                  “The sophistication of the plans – creating bombs filled with shrapnel and detonating them at the height of Marathon Monday – indicates the bombings were done at the hand of a terrorist individual or group, said Genest.”
                   
                  WPRO
                   
                   
                  And another:
                   
                  “They were smart enough to know all that, to have thought about it. That, to me, shows a level of sophistication or training,” Mr. Cloonan said.
                   
                  Washington Times
                   
                  And another:
                   
                  “TORONTO – The Boston Marathon bombing was a sophisticated and carefully thought out terrorist attack, according to an explosives expert.
                   
                  “I saw the first explosion, then I saw the second explosion and I immediately knew it was a terrorist act,” Ron Craig, a pyrotechnics professor who has advised the RCMP and FBI about explosives said Tuesday in Toronto.
                   
                  Toronto Sun
                   
                  I’ve removed the links, because they put the comment in moderation.
                   

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                  1. Sully

                    Nope, I haven’t drawn any conclusions about who did it, but I am glad you have already solved the case. On to the next mystery, Scooby!   

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                    1. turbo

                      “I haven’t drawn any conclusions about who did it” You are moving your own goalposts.
                      You claimed that we should not draw any conclusions about the bombing after you had just drawn conclusions about the bombing.
                      I have claimed that it is acceptable to draw conclusions about the bombing, namely that the bombing was terrorism.
                      If you’d like to claim that this bombing was not terrorism, you are perfectly free to do so.

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                    2. DogDiesel

                      Turbo:
                      “The bombing was sophisticated. Two detonations less than half a minute apart. Possibly remotely detonated.
                      The only kind of mental illness that would evade all ideology would be some kind of raving lunacy, and a raving lunatic could not carry off an operation like this.”
                       
                      Again, where’s your evidence? You’re the only one drawing conclusions.

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                  2. turbo

                    “where’s your evidence? You’re the only one drawing conclusions.” I guess you missed the numerous experts I cited in the posts above.

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                    1. DogDiesel

                      Unfortunately, there are just as many ‘experts’ reporting the bomb was ‘unsophisticated’ and instructions can be found on the internet. How about waiting for the results of the investigation?

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                    2. turbo

                      “just as many ‘experts’ reporting the bomb was ‘unsophisticated’”  No, there were not, which is why you have not cited any of them here.
                      And ‘sophistictaed’ refers to both the bombs themselves and the whole operation.
                       
                      That’s the first thing. The second thing is that you put the word “expert” in inverted commas to suggest that the experts I cited were not experts at all, but you have made no argument to back up your claim.
                       
                      “How about waiting for the results of the investigation?
                       
                      You haven’t. You looked at the very first descriptions of the bomb to come in and, without waiting for the results of the investigation, you declared the bombs to be unsophisticated. 
                       
                      Even further, you bragged that you could have built such bombs yourself, which is not the smartest thing to do on a public forum the day after a bombing. Nor is it exactly indicative of patience.
                       
                      Ultimately, your worst offense is simply your motivation behind all of your unsubstantiated and hypocritical carping: you don’t like that I’m calling the bombing an act of terror. You don’t want this bombing to be labeled terrorism.
                       
                      Despicable.

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                    3. DogDiesel

                      Check the posts. I never said it wasn’t an act of terror and you’re a clown for saying so. All I suggested was that we should wait for the results of the investigation. If you really had a clue, you would have Googled “how to make a pressure cooker bomb” and you would have seen for yourself how unsophisticated it is. You instead chose to twist my words because as usual you were wrong. I’ve come to expect that from the chief clown here on RIF. As for your experts, they were being asked to speculate. They had no hard facts and always gave their opinion with a disclaimer admitting as much.

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                    4. turbo

                      ” I never said” Yes, you did:
                       
                      “it could be some nut that just wanted to kill and maim for no reason ”
                       
                      “there isn’t enough information yet that points to an ideological motive”
                       
                      “I agree with Len”
                       
                      What did Len say?
                       
                      “We have no idea who did the bombing or for what reason. ”
                       
                       
                       
                      Yup. You were both arguing that we should not think of this bombing as an act of terror, because it could have had an apolitical or non-ideological motive and could have been carried out by crazed lunatics.
                       
                      I argued that this most certainly was an act of terror, given that the site and timing of the bombing was significant and that the bombing was a sophisticated operation.
                       
                       
                      “you’re a clown”
                       
                      “the chief clown here on RIF”
                       
                       
                      No insults, please.
                       
                      “you would have Googled “how to make a pressure cooker bomb” and you would have seen for yourself how unsophisticated it is”
                       
                      You mean I should have drawn conclusions about the bombing before the investigation concluded, so long as those conclusions agreed with yours?
                       
                      No. A bomb of this kind requires training, as you yourself admitted. It was not a gas can with a rag stuffed in it. It was not an expert’s device, but neither was it something anyone can just slap together, even with googling.
                       
                      “They had no hard facts ”
                       
                      Yes, they did. They had facts about the composition of the bomb and the coordination of the explosions and the significance of the circumstances.
                       
                      Where they–and I–were circumspect was in the determination of the terrorist’s background, allegiances, and motives. But it was clear from the very start that this was a terrorist operation, one very much designed to be heard ’round the world.
                       
                      They were correct, and so was I.
                       
                      You were and are wrong, and for you now to try to weasel out of your original position is nearly as despicable as your original position itself. 

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                    5. DogDiesel

                      “it could be some nut that just wanted to kill and maim for no reason ”
                       
                      Thank you for reposting my remarks and making point. The key word is could:
                       
                      verb
                      1.
                      a simple past tense of can1 .

                      auxiliary verb
                      2.
                      (used to express possibility): I wonder who that could be at the door. That couldn’t be true.

                      3.
                      (used to express conditional possibility or ability): You could do it if you tried.

                      4.
                      (used in making polite requests): Could you open the door for me, please?

                      5.
                      (used in asking for permission): Could I borrow your pen?

                      6.
                      (used in offering suggestions or advice): You could write and ask for more information. You could at least have called me.

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                    6. turbo

                      “The key word is could”  No, the key word is ‘not’, as in ‘The people who carried out this attack could not have done this for no reason.’
                       
                      You are utterly and disgracefully wrong.

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  3. leftyrite

     
    What happened in Boston yesterday was, by its very definition, a terrorist act. Let’s stick with that and be on solid ground until more is known.
    Too many behaviors, and way too many people, are subsumed under the rubric of mental illness.
    Let’s share some awareness in behalf of the many decent people who are plagued by maladies that are not “their fault” and about which all too little is known, the overwhelming number of whom are basically gentle and harmless.
    It’s called “tarring people with the same brush.”
    I’ve used terms like “nuts” and “looney” and “crazy” way too many times, and unfortunately, will inevitably do so in the future.
    But, it’s not right, and I know in my heart that it isn’t. It hurts too many of the innocent, just like those bombs did.
     
     

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  4. Robert Malin

    Dog- it’s sick- i.e. mentally ill to want to injure people for amusement.
    Bob, you make an interesting point that one man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist,” in fact the Brits regularly called the revolutionaries terrorists. 
    It is ironic that this happened on Patriots day, which is now Tax Day, which leads me to believe at lease possibly this was the purpose of this perverted statement.
    It is also interesting that yesterday there was a series of car bombs in Iraq where at least 42 people died. In this clip a man captures the emotion of living with this insanity on a daily basis, our “legacy” in Iraq.
    http://youtu.be/fDkhBdr83pU
    “What have these innocent people done to deserve this? DOn’t their lives mean anything?” he says.
     
    That’s exactly how I feel. 
     
    We need to study peace and peaceful conflict resolution and know that anyone who uses this kind of act for “theater” is a nut- no if’s, ands or buts.

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  5. leftyrite

    People who do the kind of thing that we witnessed in Boston yesterday may be labelled, correctly, criminally insane.
    It might take a tad bit longer to think it or to say it, but it’s more specific and more accurate.
    Come to think of it, a great deal of what we discuss on this site requires a bit more empathy on the part of the uninitiated in order to foster greater understanding. If any is to take place.
    No harm in that. 
    It’s called sensitivity.
    And lots of people think that term is weak.
    Nope. Just closer to real learning through greater accuracy.
    You can be a Broad Scholar, or even a Rhodes, and not know that.

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  6. Johnnie

     
    From the Stanford/NYU Report,  “Living Under Drones”:
    http://www.livingunderdrones.org/
     
    “Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.”
     
     
     
     

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    1. jgardner

      Exactly… Let’s consider for a moment the (likely?) scenario that it was a foreign-based group behind this attack. People always ask after these tragedies “how can we stop this from happening?” One answer that doesn’t seem to be considered seriously is “stop doing it to them first”.

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