Boston Marathon Attack- What Was the Motivation?

Boston Marathon Attack- What Was the Motivation?

“Radicalization can be based on religious, political, social or other causes.”

Firstly, let us dismiss the silly debate of whether this was a “terrorist” attack.  “Terrorist attack” seems to be politically correct media code for “Islamic Jihad” attack.  I do not abide the idea that “terrorist attack” equates “Islamic Jihad” attack.  This was a “terrorist attack” regardless of what motivated the attacker(s) as discussed below.

What could possibly cause a person(s) to intentionally cause such horrific death and destruction at the Boston Marathon?  Sure, early reports say an injured Saudi National is a person of interest (even as I write this Fox News is saying this person has no connection to the attack).  Our inclination, mine included, is to suspect Islamic Jihad is behind this attack.  This attack certainly has the “fingerprints” of a Jihadi attack.  However, the possibility remains that Jihad may not be behind this attack.  This article therefore speaks to the process of violent radicalization generally.

Violent radicalization is a persistent threat.  Radicalization can be based on religious, political, social or other causes.  Radicalism is NOT illegal.  Radicalization alone, without incitement to violence may not be a threat.  However, the Constitution does NOT protect those who, in pursuit of radical ends, would cause harm NOR does it protect those who would incite or support those who would cause harm.

The Process of Violent Radicalization

The FBI Model describes the process of violent radicalization as four incremental stages of development:

Preradicalization → Identification → Indoctrination → Action

Preradicalization is measured by the subject’s motivation, stimuli and opportunity to radicalize.

Identification is marked by acceptance of and devotion to the cause.

Indoctrination involves a conviction that the cause requires violent action.

Action is the manifestation of a commitment to engage in violence.

Radicalization to the action stage is not inevitable.  Many persons only reach the first or second stage.

The early phases of radicalization may take place in ways that implicate the liberties and privacy interests of U.S. citizens thereby requiring investigative restraint.  A person’s opportunity to radicalize does NOT alone justify investigation.  Even belief that a cause requires action may not justify investigation if that person shows no inclination to take violent action.

The difficulty of detecting VIOLENT radicalization and justifying FBI intervention are exacerbated because the four stages of radicalization can proceed with unpredictable speed.

The “Lone Actor” and Internet Radicalization 

Lone actors can pass through the four stages of radicalization with no personal contact with a leader or another violent radical.  The internet plays an increasingly important role in the development of the lone actor. The internet can supplant the typical real-world meeting places typically used to radicalize thereby thwarting the traditional investigative techniques used by the FBI to identify violent radicals.

[This article is adapted primarily from a prior OBS article FORT HOOD REPORT DIGESTED (Pt. 2) (Violent Radicalization) 7/24/12]

I welcome your comments below.

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