The Hunt for the Marathon Bomber

The hunt for the killer behind Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings began within minutes of the attacks.

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David L Ryan / The Boston Globe / AP

An explosion goes off near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, April 15, 2013.

The hunt for the killer behind Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings began within minutes of the attacks. Even as local first responders brought the last of the wounded away (at least three were killed, and 140 injured), evidence recovery teams working under the auspices of the Joint Terrorism Task Force of Boston moved in to seal off the bomb sites from contamination and begin the work of picking through the wreckage for pieces of the explosive devices. In Washington, the FBI and CIA began scouring their intelligence databases for missed clues that the attacks had been imminent. And national signals intelligence assets had “ears up” for any congratulatory chatter by terrorist organizations thought to be planning attacks against the U.S.

Which doesn’t mean the case will be solved quickly. By Monday evening, there was still no claim of responsibility for the attacks, and no indication of a culprit. Even when a suspect does emerge, figuring out whether he had accomplices and who the prime mover was will be an ongoing investigation for local, state and federal authorities. According to the Boston police commissioner, Edward Davis, there had been “no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen” at the marathon. A senior FBI official tells TIME the bureau is starting cold on the case. Former senior Justice department officials agree. “They are starting with the facts of the event,” says Todd Hinnen, former acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

The investigation is beginning at the scene of the attack. Blast sites look like chaos: debris and blood and shards of glass. But to forensic experts they are fields of evidence waiting to be collected. Amid the starburst of wreckage, FBI experts can find the spring from a timing mechanism or the signature chemical residue of a particular explosive that caused the blast. In Oklahoma City, the vehicle identification number of the truck used in the 1995 bombing was found on its rear axle amid the debris. In Lockerbie, Scotland, investigators found pieces of a cassette player that had contained plastic explosives that had blown Pan Am flight 103 from the sky in 1988.

Officials are looking for help from witnesses, urging them to call in any possible clues to 1-800-494-TIPS. Local officials are also reviewing video from marathon spectators and from local surveillance cameras. “They’re going to be cycling through tape to see if they can identify the packages that were against the side of the building,” says Roger Cressey, a former White House counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The investigation will spread from the blast zone out, as other agencies pursue their own pieces of the puzzle. Boston police and FBI will search for and question informants and other human sources to see if groups suspected of violence talked about the attack before or after it occurred. The FBI will search its databases for clues they might have missed in the run up to the bombings. “They’re going back and scrubbing all of their current intelligence holdings for anything that might have had anything to do with this,” says Hinnen.

The further the investigation gets, the more decisions about how to prosecute the case will enter into the proceedings. When the first pieces of evidence are analyzed, a key decision will be made at Main Justice in Washington whether to claim it was a domestic or foreign terrorist attack. If the Attorney General or his deputy decides there is probable cause the attack was foreign planned, investigators will have access to a broad range of authorities available under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If it is thought to be a domestic attack, investigations will proceed under more limited authorities, like title three wiretapping or the Patriot Act’s surveillance and evidence gathering powers.

When a suspect emerges, investigators will have another set of calls to make. If they get a suspect quickly, they can claim there is still an imminent threat of other attacks and can question him without reading him his Miranda rights under the Quarels exception for public safety. In the case of Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Underwear Bomber, investigators interrogated the Nigerian native for several hours before he was given medical treatment in an attempt to find out if there were any other plots underway.

Even if it it is days before a suspect is identified, when one is arrested Washington will likely deploy the mobile interrogation teams that were established early in the Obama administration as an alternative to military detention and interrogation. Former White House terrorism advisor John Brennan acknowledged in 2011 that one of the high-value detainee interrogation groups was deployed to interrogate the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad eventually pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court to ten federal crimes.

With the FBI starting with few leads, the investigation into the Boston bombing may not move as fast as Americans are used to: foreign terrorist organizations have been quick to take credit for attacks in recent years, but domestic terrorists often don’t seek the spotlight. At a press conference Monday, President Obama declared, “We will find out who did this.” He didn’t say when.

MORE: The Day the Marathon Stopped: Tragedy in Boston’s Back Bay

PHOTOS: Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer’s Eyewitness Account

83 comments
YM
YM

Olive fair skin, dark curly hair, classic parrot nose...does anyone else see "Syrian" in them?!?!

kolagunta
kolagunta

The cost of the attack cannot be more than a few hundred dollars, which will include the IED, the logistics and the hiring charges for the person/s. In contrast we will be spending close to 50k $ to find the cause and a substantially higher figure to provide for prevention, all of it recurring. This is a total drain on the economy of the country. To add to this it does not add to the quality of life. There are also collateral drain on resources. The US should accept that it is indirectly creating this situation, playing ball with the creators of terror. The whole world knows the identity of the creator.   

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

The picture above looks like the bomb went off with nobody close by...........LOOKS LIKE AMATEUR NITE TO ME.......as one of the spy novels I have read said.........IF THE AL QUEDA DID THIS......CHECK IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN......THERE WOULD BE MORE DEAD.....

THIS LOOKS LIKE A DIS=INFORMATION CANOAUGN.......WHAT ID OBAMA WANTED TO QUELL THE OWNERSHIP OF FIREARMS......NOW WITH CONGRESS IN SESSION ABOUT GUNS......SANDY HOOK.....ETC.....HE CAN BLAME THE NRA, REPUBLICANS, ETC......ANYBODY.....OTHER THAN DEMOCRATS AND ENVIRONMENTAL WACKOS AND THE LIKE !!!

READ "THE LAST MAN" BY VINCE FLYNNN SPY NOVEL........DIS-INFORMATION GETS THE ILL INFORMED MONKEY IN THE STREET......WHO KNOWS NOTHING ANYWAY.

valentine, comedian

zeexuu
zeexuu

My heart goes with Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Baghdad, Kabul, Tehran, Gaza, Mumbai, London, Madrid and Boston. Blood of every human being is precious. Illegitimate bloodshed of any kind and for any purpose is condemnable. May all people of the world live in peace.

Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

This event is a drama and is shocking. BUT : why are we more shocked when a few Americans die and are we much less chocked when hundreds of syrians, Palestinians, Ethiopians, etc... die every day ? This drama should make us think of the violence everywhere in the world that children, women en men all over the planet have to go through every day. To them a bombing with "only" 5 dead or so is a small event... They are used to so much worse. The worse bombing in history is also something not to be forgotten...

kolagunta
kolagunta

So long as the US continues the feed the cobra, the rogue state of Pakistan, such ghastly incidents will continue. You cannot have a cobra as a bedfellow. The US  by pouring millions into Pakistan, feels they are fighting terror. Unfortunately a major part of the money is used by Pakistan to build the international terror machine. It is high time that the US gets out of the rogue state and imposes severe sanctions. This will trigger a Arab spring in Pakistan, which will demolish the terror machine.  

rutnerh
rutnerh

The bomb attacks on Patriots Day suggest a possible domestic terrorist attack by true patriots celebrating this day with a violent reminder of little if any residual patriotic spirit except in the football team, at least in some areas of Cambridge, MA. Several years ago I walked several blocks in C and found exactly 2 flags on private buildings, none flying at City Hall and of course no parades. In contrast there were numerous visible French flags on Bastille Day 10 days later.

rutnerh
rutnerh

I am surprised that the FBI and local security agencies apparently did not send out appeals to the spectators in the immediate blast areas to hand in any souvenir debris picked up or found on their clothes. Some may even wind up for sale on eBay.

dr.milanzm1963
dr.milanzm1963

This is unacceptable. Safety of our people and security of USA are ALWAYS our No1 priority…

grape_crush
grape_crush

"But this moment, before we know who did it, may be more important than when we do know. The speculation has established three possible perpetrators: Islamic terrorists, domestic terrorists, or simple lunatics. The potential of this moment is that we can recognize that it could be any of them, that they all want the same thing, that they are, in the only way that matters, the same thing. What we are dealing with is the force of madness against sanity. We are dealing with people who see the world's flags fluttering at the finish line of a great accomplishment and want to blow it all up. Does it matter what kind of hats they wear? The cultural roots of the perpetrators are irrelevant. The history will be applied post-hoc and poorly. Whoever it turns out to be will incur a blame for entire groups of people — whether Muslims or American gun nuts — which are entirely accidental to their being. Let us pause, right now, and agree not to make that mistake."


AlvaroSevilla
AlvaroSevilla

Our own social and human development, produces irrational actions induced or not as an expression of the miasma of physical and moral garbage we have spread all over the planet. Destroying life, not so much like our own, but also the lives of living species who joins us in the Living Planet. Not to mention that those or these, all of us are the producers.
Nuestro propio desarrollo social y humano, produce acciones irracionales inducidas o no como una expresion de las miasmas de basura fisica y moral que hemos regado por todo el planeta. Destruyendo la vida, no tanto como la nuestra propia, sino que tambien la vida de especies vivientes que nos acompaña en el Planeta Viviente. No digamos que aquellos o esos, todos los producimos.

zeexuu
zeexuu

It is a sad incident. Terrorism is hitting the US mainland now which is without any doubt a condemnable act by evil people. We Pakistani people have suffered most from this menace and we realize how it is felt when our beloved people are died without any reason in such a bloodshed by vicious and dreadful act of mindless yahoos. Let us hope to eradicate the root of this evil from the facade of the world and bring peace in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, US, India, Israel and any other country which is effected by the terrorism and acts of people who condone terrorism in any way.

n.schwencke86
n.schwencke86

I'm pretty sure that the ingenious underwear-bomber is called Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and not Omar. I just hate how more and more articles don't even seem to be edited anymore ("Even if it it is days before a suspect is identified..."). Sometimes I wonder how the journalists from nowadays work. Seems to me that it is almost like a tweet or a facebook comment: don't even think about it, just write and send. I'm not surprised when it happens to The Sun, Bild or one of those tabloids but come on Time, you ought to be better than that!

JehudahBen-Israel
JehudahBen-Israel

We, the people of Israel, while commemorating our dead, and celebrating the 65th birthday of the re-institution of our sovereignty in our homeland of Eretz Israel, also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Boston at this very difficult hour as sisters and brothers stand alongside their kins. Life, brothers and sisters of the US in general and Boston in particular, is stronger than death and destruction that some evil people are driven to bring upon us. Stand tall and strong and we shall overcome this one too.


Jehudah Ben-Israel
Qatzrin, Israel

tjalltheway
tjalltheway

@Elvisfofana You have got to be kidding me!!!!! I can tell you are not born on American soil just by the way you spell. My 11 year old daughter has better grammer than you do and if your so worried about those other countries why dont you go back to your homeland instead of coming over here and taking jobs that real AMERICANS should have!!  Stop using our    welfare system it was not even intended to be used by sponges like yourself. You people talk so highly of your homelands if you love them so much why are you here? Answer me that one!!!!!

nubwaxer
nubwaxer

@Elvisfofana save your soap opera.  watch first episode of vice tv and tell us why we should proceed with our clumsy meddling everywhere, especially where we are definitely not wanted and the people there are insane religious fanatics.

theresmoneyinthebananastand
theresmoneyinthebananastand

@Elvisfofana It is completely natural for us to mourn losses that are closer to us, because we relate to them at a much higher level. We mourn the loss of a spouse more than the loss of an acquaintance. It's just human nature. I don't mean to argue that it is acceptable to close ourselves off from tragedy around the world, just that we cannot judge reactions to different events in the same way.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@kolagunta Two major issues with your statement

1) We have no evidence that this was caused by jihadists, in fact there is strong circumstantial evidence that this is domestic terror

2) Pakistan has nukes. A nuclear armed country is not one I'd rather see a civil war in, especially since there is no way of knowing how extremist or martyrdom seeking the people who get their hands on the nuclear inventory are, or who else may get their hands on it in the ensuing chaos.

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@rutnerh Members of the Tea Party call themselves "true patriots."  Are you suggesting they are responsible for these bomb attacks?  

garygnj
garygnj

True patriots?  What kind of idiot posts something as ridiculous as that?

tommyudo
tommyudo

@dr.milanzm1963


Unacceptable"??  Nice euphemism, and totally inappropriate. What's unacceptable is that the real perp(s) might never be found. Yesterday's event will be another reason to ratchet up the National Security state where we will reach a point that the only place we feel safe is on the fairway of a golf course.

Bullsgt
Bullsgt

@n.schwencke86 So true! The line between responsible journalism and sensationalism was crossed a long time ago. 

MagdalenaMaldonado
MagdalenaMaldonado

Your tired, impotent Right Wing talking points contribute nothing but ignorance to the debate. Anyone with insight into anything that threatens your old status quo America is written off as not entitled to be here and on welfare. Z-z-z-z-z-z...

Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

@tjalltheway @Elvisfofana oh yes : I forgot : before you make a point about spelling, see to it that you spell it right yourself : it is grammar, not grammer, it is "don't" and not dont. And try to find out what punctuation is used for, because your "sentences" could use them. In other words : please stop making yourself ridiculous and think before you write something. Maybe then, some day, you might be able to contribute something constructive in a debate.

Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

@tjalltheway @Elvisfofana You are really funny. You prove three things : first of all, you do not react on the content of my reaction, only on the form. Thank you for that, because I find content the most important part of any contribution to a debate. Since the contents of my reaction did not trigger any response from your part, I thank you for agreeing with me on what I write. Second of all you prove to me that you have not thought this through and that all you say is merely based on assumptions and prejudice. I live in my homeland, I do not take any job from any American and I do not abuse "your" welfare system (congratulations on "owning" that system by the way). Third thing : you comment on how I write, well I comment on how well you are able to read. You have no clue on what my point is, but you criticize it anyway. When something like this happens close to us, I think it is the perfect moment to use those feelings of mourning in order to amplify our empathy for others far away from us : that is my main point.

Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

@nubwaxer @Elvisfofana If the US was not meddling everywhere, Europe would be a Nazi territory. The meddling is not always wrong. I do not know vice tv and I doubt this has anything to do with the point I am trying to make. When something like this happens close to us, I think it is the perfect moment to use those feelings of mourning in order to amplify our empathy for others far away from us : that is my main point.



Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

 @theresmoneyinthebananastand @Elvisfofana : I know it is completely natural, but that does not make it right. Events like these should make us realize how bad the situation is all over the world. It is normal that we mourn losses that are closer to us at a higher level : but that puts us in a perfect position to think of what happens all over the world with the right perspective : without the distant "safe" feeling that what happens there is not happening to us. We see what happened in Boston with the feeling of "oh my god, this could have been me or my child". We should look at what happens in the rest of the world in the same way. That is not easy, but when something like this happens close to us, I think it is the perfect moment to use those feelings of mourning in order to amplify our empathy for others far away from us.

kolagunta
kolagunta

@mantisdragon91 @kolagunta 1) The IEDs and methodology used are similar to the incidents in the Afpak area and India. Of late we in S.Asia find that no one claims the attack, which is the case in Boston. 

2) The terror machine is the creation of the political elite and the army in Pakistan, who are using the terror machine to sleanse the world of all infidels including non-Sunnis. The so called fight the govt of Pakistan is conducting is mostly against shias and other non sunnis, which is being amply funded by the US. The common people of Pakistan are totally against this ethnic cleansing and are waiting for an opportunity to bring in true democracy. Given a chance they will mount a civil war.   

m0derateGuy
m0derateGuy

@mantisdragon91 @kolagunta What exactly is your "strong circumstantial" evidence that this was domestic terror? Beyond mentally disturbed comments by Cenk Uygur.

kolagunta
kolagunta

@mantisdragon91 @kolagunta The ground reality in Pakistan is that the religious zealots are being used by the political elite and army to propagate terror as the only solution to save  Islam from the infidels ( nonsunnis). Alquaida and the Salafis are all radical sunnis and they are spreading. LET promoted by the ISI of pakistan is also a Sunni outfit, whose theatre is spreading fast. Recently they have been involved in an attack in Afghanistan. In fact being directly under the ISI they have been operating with impunity in India, inspite of many UN sanctions against it.

So it is in the interest of the world at large that the epicenter of Terror is demolished.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@kolagunta @mantisdragon91 And I'd rather have the political elite and the army in charge of Pakistan than the religious extremists that are fighting so hard to grab power there.

PureRumble
PureRumble

Might i add the current political climate in america and the changes that she is undergoing... Changes that few (any?) right wing extremists approve of:

• the healthcare bill

• the assault gun ban

• the new social welfare aid measurements

• the consideration of giving "illegal" immigrants amnesty

• the first election and re-election of a black president (ok this one has been around for some time now)

One cand only speculate how these would affect a hardcore right-wing fanatic with a troubled mind and yet "determined spirit"...

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@m0derateGuy @mantisdragon91 @kolagunta For starters the fact that no Jihadi group has taken credit, combined with the fact that this happened on Patriot's Day( a day near and dear to the hearts of many right wing anarchists). The location being Boston(which many right wingers see as the East Coast capital of Liberalism) doesn't help either.