As we’ve often said, the solution to most violent crimes, especially predatory crimes, is the equation: Why + How = Who. And in a case as tragic and impactful as these twin bomb blasts near the finish line to the Boston Marathon, there are always going to be “media experts” who want to offer their opinions. For the time being, in my opinion, they ought to be honest enough to say, “I just don’t know.” The analysis of the structure of the bombs themselves will help determine whether this is a domestic or international conspiracy or some lone wolf looking for personal fame.
Beyond that, I think it is best that the so-called “experts” keep their mouths shut and let law enforcement investigators do their job without speculation that could very well lead to copy cat crimes or misguided reports that send the investigation off in a wrong direction. The consideration for would-be commentators should be the same as it is for physicians: First, do no harm.
As far as investigative considerations, a main question will be whether there turns out to have been any advance notice. At this point it appears there was not. Again, it boils down to the specific details of how the bombs were made and the degree of expertise that workmanship exemplifies. In other words, was this the product of individual sophistication or something that could have been put together with information from the Internet?
What the FBI and ATF will be looking for is whether a specific signature exists that could link the UNSUB or UNSUBs to any specific organization. The Unabomber acted alone, and displayed a specific signature that, when interpreted by the experts, revealed an individual as opposed to a group. And that individual was methodical, ritualistic, and obsessive-compulsive. He had to be or this particular type of device would have blown up in his face. We also knew from his bomb-making signature that he was highly intelligent and mechanically sophisticated. We also knew that this was someone who would not feel comfortable in normal social situations.
As the police detectives and FBI and ATF agents pursue leads, it is likely the solution to this case will come from witnesses who observed a suspicious person or persons. The area of the bombings was heavily surveilled by closed-circuit security television, in addition to the numerous private still and motion picture cameras, so we hope the investigators will get lucky on that score.
Also, it is highly possible someone will note the UNSUB’s odd or alarming post-offense behavior, which is why I have always said that law enforcement’s most valuable investigative partner is the public at large.
I am eager to see them work together in the days ahead.