April 22, 2013 Arlington VA
The carnage of the Boston Marathon will remain seared into people's minds for a very long time; healing is not an easy thing. Fortunately, people do move on, but they will remember, and that is, perhaps, the most important lesson from the bombing along the route of the Boston Marathon.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible, either to predict where another such disaster will occur, or to prevent it in advance. Those who decide to bomb, maim, and kill, have their minds set, and they don't necessarily have the same thought processes exhibited by the majority of people in their daily lives. Their actions are often spontaneous in origin, and their minds become as one channel--moving ahead, despite any obstacles, to complete the task they have decided will earn them a place in history.
One of the most interesting pieces of information I have found, in the years of my writing and studying terrorism, is the sense of asynchronous thought--the lack of consistency or predictability--that seems to surround these people, and makes their crimes a new, and different experience each time they occur. They might chose, as did the two brothers in Boston, a major event, or they may go to some smaller community, and simply go on a rampage. Most then have the courtesy to kill themselves, rather than face the police. Some think they go to heaven as martyrs; others don't believe in heaven, and simply think they have earned their place among those who have protested what they believe is injustice. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that they are killers--murderers, not assassins, and deserve whatever the ultimate penalty society prescribes for their actions.
The problem here is that we live in a free society--one where people, such as the two brothers in Boston, can travel freely, buy their goods wherever they choose, and normally avoid detection, because they have committeed no overt crime. In the US, people have become accustomed to their freedoms, and have let down their guard--something these killers know, and use as a support for their actions.
Here in the US, we need to wake up, and begin to be more observant about our surroundings. We need to report packages we see on the streets unattended, and quickly. We need to recognize we are partners with law enforcement, because they cannot do the job in a modern society alone. We need to emulate London, Israel, and other countries, who are also free, but who take their security personally--not leaving it to someone else. Until we change our culture of complacency, we will probably continue to see incidents, such as Boston, and shake our collective heads wondering why it is happening to us.