The Peril of Soft Targets

Jeremy Littlewood wrote the following for the Ottawa Citizen.

Monday afternoon two explosions were reported close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and initial reports suggest three dead and more than 100 injured. Authorities have ruled out electrical or gas faults, thus implying that the two explosions about 100 yards apart were deliberate acts.

The spectre of terrorism is likely to lead investigators and the public to suspect al-Qaida or a group or individual inspired by al-Qaida’s narrative. Caution, however, is necessary before jumping to such conclusions. Both the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 and the attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik in 2011 were initially assumed to be the work of foreign-based, and jihadist inspired, terrorist groups: they were domestic right-wing terrorism. It is therefore important to remember that terrorism comes in many guises — left-wing, right-wing, ethno-nationalist, religious, and what is known as single-issue terrorism that incorporates violent animal right extremists and violent anti-abortionist groups among others.

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