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Search for motives in Boston bombing: What it means for everyone

What might have motivated suspects Tamerland and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston bombings? Simplistic answers – say, Islamic militancy or immigrant anger – may not suffice. Yet knowing such motives may help everyone act to prevent such attacks.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing federal charges and has made an initial court appearance in his hospital room April 22.

FBI/AP Photo

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With so much uncertainty about the motives for the Boston Marathon bombings, journalists and investigators are probing every life detail of the two accused brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Were they angry at America? Islamic jihadists? Mentally unstable?

Could this have been Chechen-style tribalistic revenge for a wrong done? Were they influenced by violent video games, academic failures, or their parents’ breakup?

Much is now being read into their public statements.

“Worldview: Islam. Personal priority: career and money,” wrote Dzhokhar.

“I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them,” said the older brother, Tamerlan.

Their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told reporters: “Being losers, not being able to settle themselves and thereby just hating everyone else who did.”

The list of possible reasons goes on as more information about them is revealed – perhaps even by an injured Dzhokhar from his hospital bed.

The public desire for a simple explanation is driven by a desire for simple solutions to prevent a similar attack. After almost every mass killing – Boston, Newtown, Aurora, 9/11, etc. – the public fear of a recurrence pushes the drive for quick remedies, especially from government. Yet too often elected leaders and law enforcement respond hastily with simplistic or even wrong preventive measures.

Remember the five-color “threat alert system” from the Department of Homeland Security? It’s gone. The invasion of Iraq, too, looks like a misguided response to 9/11. Airport security checks are being constantly revised.


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