At 2:49 p.m. on April 15, two crude bombs, fashioned out of pressure cookers and ball bearings, exploded 13 seconds apart at the Boston Marathon, killing three and severely injuring nearly 180. We grieve for the families of the dead and wounded.
It was a horrible wakeup call for the U.S., which had not seen a terrorist attack on American soil for over a decade, though that is not to say that terrorists haven’t tried to perpetrate mass murder here in that time.
The Boston bombings served as a terrible reminder that we live in a very dangerous world –– and all of us must keep our guard up to help prevent another terrorist attack.
Security experts speak of the Boston Marathon as a “soft” target, meaning that it attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators, all standing in the open, largely unguarded. Police cannot comb the crowds in search of terrorists. Checkpoints would be a logistical nightmare.
The answer, says the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is for all of us to do our part at such events. In a sense, we are all deputized in the war on terror. As the saying goes, “If you see something, say something.”
The FBI lists telltale signs that a terrorist might be in our midst, including:
Surveillance: anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps and binoculars near key facilities and events.
Suspicious questioning: anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail or email about a key facility or people who work there.
Security tests: any attempts to penetrate or test security procedures at a key facility or event.
Supplies acquisition: anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification badges for a key facility or event, or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack.
Suspicious persons: anyone who does not appear to belong in a workplace, neighborhood or business near a key facility or event.
Dry runs: any behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities or events, and timing traffic lights or traffic patterns.
Deploying assets: abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials or persons being deployed near a key facility or event.
If you have seen or heard of any of the above, by all means, call local authorities or the FBI. To offer a tip to the FBI, go to tips.fbi.gov. To provide information on select major cases, call the bureau’s Major Case Contact Center at (800) 225-5324.