Breaking News as of about 3:30 p.m. Fox News reported there has been confirmation that an envelope of Ricin was sent via mail to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). Ricin is a deadly toxic substance made from the Castor plant. “A dose as small as a few grains of salt can kill an adult human.” There is significant difference in lethality between an injection and inhalation.
In following the developments of the investigation into the Boston bombings, when no one had come forward to claim responsibility as yet, I was wondering whether it would be found it was an American (domestic form of terrorism) or an overseas individual or group. What did we know immediately by the nature of the attack? The weapons were “homemade” bombs – referred to as improvised explosive devices (IED), relatively small in size, apparently placed low to the ground in a crowded “target rich” environment. The devices contained shrapnel, which are smallish pieces of metal that can be nails, ball bearings, BBs, etc. that are designed to explode outward and maim human beings. It would appear that it may have been constructed using pressure cookers as the containers and brought to the site in black cloth bags. Could have been detonated by a cell phone. So, we know for sure it was not a suicide bomber per se – the person who carried out this attack did not wear the bomb, he/she planted the bombs, which went off close together, both in proximity and timing. We know two bombs went off and there were reports that two other devices were located and disabled. It took place at an event that would have huge media coverage, as well as the usual camera and photo coverage by attendees at the event. The participants in the race numbered over 23,000 and 17,000 had already passed the finish line at the time of the explosions. Was the timing deliberate or incompetent construction? Did we get lucky by the limitation in the number of devices and by when they went off? I think we did, despite three dead and 176 wounded. The bomb maker could have dipped those pieces of shrapnel in rat poison, which acts as an anticoagulant and we would have had far more dead from victims bleeding out. This is what we know as of today.
While the Boston Marathon attracts runners from all over the world, it is predominantly a local American event. Marathons take place in every major American city. It is not a symbol of America such as the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or Wall Street itself. Its purpose appears to have been to create terror, sow fear and distrust in our security efforts, and to have extensive coverage by the media. It was successful to a degree. The small difference in the timing of the bombs going off – 13 seconds between the explosions is possibly critical. If confusion, chaos, terror and a high body count was the aim of the bomb maker, one strategy is to plant two or more devices and time them to go off separately, thus allowing for rescue personnel to make it to the site before the second one goes off, thereby taking out the rescuers, as well as creating greater fear, chaos and confusion and slowing down response to save lives. Thirteen seconds is barely enough time for people to grasp what has happened to them, much less act, so my judgement is we got lucky. There was over 1000 medical personnel, professional and volunteers. on site before the bombs went off.
In the aftermath and confusion of the last 24 hours, rumors were rife, especially regarding a Saudi national here on a student visa as a critical person of interest – wounded or not, fleeing the scene, an apartment being searched, etc. Instantly, we feel it is an outsider who did this horrible act, but there’s comfort in that knowledge as well. It was not one of us; it was not another crazy individual we live next door to. Then, the Saudi student was said to have been highly cooperative and not a suspect. If a bomber was going to so much trouble and effort and success, why has no statement by the bomber being made? Why no credit taken or more threats or demands made? That is when I started thinking about the Anthrax attacks in the aftermath of 9/11, which have never been successfully solved though the FBI closed the case in 2010, pointing at a suspect, Dr. Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide before he could be arrested in 2008.
Today, at about 3:30 p.m., Fox News reported that Ricin had been mailed to a U.S. Senator and that it was confirmed to be Ricin, a deadly toxin. The anthrax attacks made many ill (17-22 people), closed public buildings, and killed five Americans. It may indeed by an isolated gripe against a Senator or the next step in the Boston Marathon bombings, or an unrelated event.
These are scary times we live in between everyday criminal acts of robbery, break-ins, gang shooters, etc., followed by the Colorado theater shooting, the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre incident, and now the Boston Marathon bombings. That is the domestic side. April is a historically violent month, especially between about April 15-23. Multiple incidents over the years have occurred during this time period, such as the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, the Waco Seige of April 19, 1993, etc. Internationally, we have highly unstable governments actively pursuing nuclear weapons or threatening to use a nuclear weapon as Kim Jung-un has been doing these past couple of weeks.
It is hard to confront that we live in a world where the unthinkable happens and the natural reaction is grief, anger, a desire for justice and a vow “Never again.” Before we jump to conclusions and race for a solution to “Never again.,” we need answers. We need the truth, however unpalatable or scary to look at head-on. While we are waiting and praying for the families and victims, we can also see the outpouring of help, love and the coming together of strangers, who regardless of race, color, creed, age, sex or any other division, are family. We are Americans. Remember that. Remember that for every crazy person, they are outnumbered by hundreds of thousands of family – our American family. We can and do stand up for one another. We are strong. We are Americans.