Tuesday, April 30, 2013
What The Boston Marathon Bombers Tell Us About Radicalization
When an act of terrorism is committed in the United States often the initial assessment of it or the perpetrators is inaccurate or wrong. This is becoming clear in the investigation into the recent bombing of the Boston Marathon by the Tsarnaev brothers. As we search to find the motive behind the attack, we often hear the term radicalization bantered about.
Understanding what it is and, more importantly, what it is not is crucial in preventing future acts from individuals who think they have a divine right to kill innocent women and children or maim civilians at a public event.
Notwithstanding Peter Bergen, of the New America Foundation analysis of the term and how it applied to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. They were not "self-radicalized"
When we hear that we think in terms of self-taught or self hypnotized. When it comes to radicalization nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the National Counter Terrorism Center, "Radicalization is a dynamic and multilayered process involving several factors that interact with one another to influence an individual. The process is influenced by internal and external factors"
As someone who has observed the process during my career I can emphatically tell you there are always external factors. The case of the Tsarnaevs is no different.
In their case there was overseas travel and contact with radical Islamic extremists. This information was provided to us by the Russian intelligence agency two years ago. It has been confirmed by the FBI and the CIA. Now we are finding out that there was at least one individual in the united states, "Misha" who acted as a facilitator in radicalization process. There was also a religious organization, in this case the Islamic Society of Boston, with a history of radicalization either with former members who were tried and convicted of terrorism or inflammatory speakers who incited others to act.