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Apr-16-2013 16:02printcomments

Cops Say Marathon Bombers Were Amateurs

Officials say there was no known credible threat prior to the explosions, though there are reports of heightened security and bomb squads present even before the race.

Boston Marathon explosion

(BOSTON) - One day after the Boston Marathon was interrupted by two bomb blasts, speculation abounds regarding the perpetrator(s), possible motives, and whether or not the government had foreknowledge.

“The pattern is becoming too, too familiar. So, Boston cops were having a bomb squad drill the same day as the Boston bombing, just like the attacks on Sept. 11 in New York and the 7/7 attack in London,” Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman said.

The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriot's Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897. The state holiday commemorates Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolution. The marathon race from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Boston's Copley Square attracts about a half-million spectators every year.

The first bomb exploded around 2:50 pm at the Fairmont Hotel along Boylston Street. The second bomb detonated approximately 10 seconds later near to the bleachers close to the finish line.

Tracy Munro of Cambridge, Massachusetts told TMO, “I was a couple doors from the explosion at the finish line. The bomb exploded suddenly while we cheered on runners. Clanking cowbells. Holding up signs of support. Boom. Boom. Everyone started to run for safety. It was hysteria. I stopped myself suddenly and I went back to help and found a young child laying in the street, who was badly injured. Her leg was blown off. I held her head and talked to her until help came while others tied off her leg to stop the bleeding. Her name is Jane. And she held on to me while we carried her to the ambulance. Jane's brother, Martin, did not survive. I'm horrified, but we are safe. It took a long while to track down my family and friends but all are safe and accounted for. I am horrified and in true shock. I appreciate all the love and support. I am not a hero. I am a mother who would hope someone would come to Stella's aid in this situation if I couldn't. She was just a baby, she was so strong and brave. I'm going to try and find the family. Somehow."

A rumor started by the New York Post, that a foreign student from Saudi Arabia who was injured in the bombing was being questioned, has led many to fear an anti-Muslim backlash. The Huffington Post reported, “Security officials at Boston's largest mosque requested police to guard its campus in the wake of Monday's deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon, a sobering reminder that Muslims in the U.S. often face threats after alleged terrorist attacks.”

President Obama intervened on national TV to calm the public saying, “We still don't know who did this or why they did this.” White House officials stated that “a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”

The date of the April 15 attack corresponds with Israeli Independence Day, Tax Day, and Patriots Day. Most political analysts suspect right wingers or Muslims. The bombers are believed to be amateurs.

No one has taken responsibility for the bombing. The Pakistani Taliban and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have denied any role. A home in Revere, Massachusetts was raided by the FBI but no further information has been made available. Police are searching for an unknown person who was filmed standing on a rooftop watching the pandemonium below without emotional reaction.

What we do know about the explosions that killed three and injured 170, is that they were caused by two small homemade pipe bombs filled with BB pellets or ball bearings and nails, which were hidden inside two trash cans. Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital removed 20 to 40 pieces of shrapnel from some of the wounded. Terror experts said devices like the ones used in Boston could be made for $100 with instructions found on YouTube. This style of homemade pipe bomb is typical of teenagers who are experimenting with explosives for laughs.

One of the more disturbing aspects about the bombing is that it could have been inspired by a recent episode of Family Guy, which aired on March 17, 2013. In this prime time TV cartoon, the main character Peter is shown driving his car through the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Peter is shown smiling in his blood-drenched car, raising a clenched fist as he crosses the finish line past many dead bodies. Peter then becomes interested in converting to Islam, as a result of a new friend, Mahmoud, who gives him a cell phone. Wearing Islamic clothing, Peter dials the phone and an explosion is heard outside. He dials the phone a second time and another explosion is heard, and people screaming. The first explosion followed by quiet (most people did not know what happened) and the second explosion a few seconds later followed by screaming, as depicted in the cartoon episode, corresponds eerily with the real event.

State and local officials told CNN's John King that there was no known credible threat prior to the explosions, though there are reports of heightened security and bomb squads present even before the race. University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, told local news he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines. Stevenson said he saw law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He's been in plenty of marathons in Chicago, D.C., Chicago, London and other major metropolitan areas but has never seen that level of security before. "They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.

TMO spoke with David Jesser, a teacher at Joseph Lee School, who ran the marathon to raise money for the local elementary school.

“Nothing seemed atypical to me in terms of security. There's always a large police presence and there's always some military lining the coarse as well as some running the race. It seemed pretty normal to me, although I could not see the area of the explosion and don't know if security looked any different in that area. But for 25.8 miles it seemed pretty normal... I guess there were about 4500 runners that didn't finish and we were right up at the front of those runners. I think around 23,000 ran yesterday.”


Karin Maria Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Karin is editor of World View News Service: and an op ed columnist for the Khaleej Times (Dubai). She blogs at: and

She enjoys writing about Jewish and Middle East affairs and her occasionally outrageous personal advice column "Ask Maria." She has written for the Muslim Observer, Islamic Horizons and the Message magazine on local politics, the halal meat industry and women's issues. Karin has been contributing articles to for several years. Her articles are both provocative and revealing, the type we need far more of in this world.

You can email Karin at this address:


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous April 18, 2013 2:49 pm (Pacific time)

You are so full of it..

Don't get personal with our writers, you could have made your point but now its flushed.  We don't need to hear from anyone who can't be at least partly civil.

Matt Johnson April 17, 2013 12:41 am (Pacific time)

Great points Ms. Friedemann, I've seen your articles in the past and your style is unique and memorable, glad you are part of the Salem-News team.

Chris April 16, 2013 5:05 pm (Pacific time)

Israeli Independence Day..??.. really? Only Israelis could spin a blatant act of land theft as independence.

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