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.
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.