Seven questions about the Boston bombers
April 20th, 2013
07:17 AM ET

Seven questions about the Boston bombers

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden - From 9/11 to Abbottabad" and a director at the New America Foundation. Jennifer Rowland is a program associate at the New America Foundation.

We don't yet know how or why the Tsarnaev brothers, the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, decided to carry out their attacks, but a look at how their stories correlate with those of some other terrorists living in the West could provide some answers to the questions that many are now asking about them.

1. How could someone who grew up in the United States become a terrorist?

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas in 2009, was born and raised in Virginia.

He self-radicalized, in part, over the Internet, which he used to reach out to the Yemen-based preacher Anwar al-Awlaki for advice about whether it is permissible for Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military to kill their comrades in the name of jihad.

Read Peter and Jennifer"s full take on cnn.com/opinion

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. massoud

    4chan.org

    April 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  2. Bruce

    Was the wife of the dead terrorist knowing of bombs and ingredients in her apartment? How could she miss it? She should be arrested and the child removed from her custody.

    April 21, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  3. wil

    ...whats the reward of being a suspect...wonder what were they thinking...stupid nejin jineer...mona koko jinen lomarani...

    April 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  4. Alex P

    Right after the bombing, Mr. Bergen with full authority, supported by a CNN pundit, stated that the marathon bombing was perpetrated by a right winger. He repeated it several times. Does he have any reservations about his judgment at this time, and would he like to go on your program and say that he was wrong, and that was an act of Islamic jihadism?
    Or does he have any proof to the contrary? And isn't it the high time to stop employing the "analysts" whose only approach to facts and suppositions is ideological?
    Too bad, he used to give pretty good reportages from the wars and other hot places. He should have stayed that way.

    April 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  5. CanAm

    "Was in contact with preacher Anwar al-Awlaki for advice" – the answer seems to be here. Follow Britishers where hate preaching is unlawful.

    April 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  6. Kfgjkrt Fftukhj

    ALL OF THIS STUFF IS WRITTEN DOWN IN THE FORMATED LANGUAGE AS LAWS ACTUAL NOT IMAGINARY OR RUMORED OR WHAT EVER PEOPLE AT THE TIME WANT TO DO REGARDING A PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL ect. THESE LAWS ARE WORDS ON A PAGE THAT MEAN SOMTHING THAT MANY OTHER PEOPLE WITHIN THE U.S. DECIDED TO FORMALY AGREE TO–"DISCLAIMER" HERE AGAIN see. above.

    April 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  7. Kfgjkrt Fftukhj

    THE EVEDENCE IS PUT TOGETHER BY LAW INFORCEMENT THE WOULD BE PROSCUTER TAKES THAT DATA AND ASIGNS CHARGES THIS EVIDENCE IS BROUGHT OUT IN THE PROCEEDINGS SUCH AS THE TRIAL–AGAIN THIS IS A OVER SIMPLIFICATION & IS NOT INTEDED TO PROVOKE WOULD BE TERRORISTS TO TEACH AMERICA ANY LEASONS BECAUSE IN FACT THE RULES ARE BEING FOLLOWED i.e. "PRACTICED"

    April 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  8. Kfgjkrt Fftukhj

    THIS IS A OVER SIMPLIFICATION: 1ST HE GETS CHARGED-THEN HE GETS ARRAINED–THEN HE GETS TRIAL (MAYBE) THEN HE GETS SENTANCED (IF FOUND GUILTY)–HE HAS NOT BEEN CHARGED YET BECAUSE HE HAS NOT BEEN READ HIS MIRADA RIGHTS–HE HAS NOT BEEN READ HIS MIRANDA RIGHTS BECAUSE HE CAN NOT UNDERSTAND HIS RIGHTS (YET). ALBIET THIS MAY NOT BE EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS BECAUSE HE IS A... (DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT WRITING THIS TO CONFUSE ANYONE IN THE WORLD WHO WANTS TO TEACH AMERICA A LESSON FOR NOT FOLLOWING RULES AS THE RULES ARE BEING FOLLOWED)

    April 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  9. dev

    where is the evidence that they were involved, only they are walking nearby!

    April 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  10. Fdgjdghj Ksfgj

    saeed you got droned a few weeks ago– I bet you were just too busy hating yourself to notice.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:01 am | Reply
  11. saeed

    the boston bombings was the greatest it was so cool to see irish americans cry in boston i have a big poster of the boston bombings in my room.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      who stepped on the tail of this little puppy?

      April 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  12. goes to show

    No matter how many laws we pass, all the grand standing and theatrics we do- we are going to have to deal with these things in the US going forward. The people have to take responsibility for they're own security- and we can never let the terrorists think we are afraid to fight and die. Also, we have to come to grips we can't take everyone into this country because, we want to be nice- this is our reward. Yes -George Bush jr was correct.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  13. Hoitdghjk Grukm

    )()didn't Anwar al-Awlaki get droned a few years ago()(

    April 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  14. jd pitts

    I'm confused here. After'watching CNN throughout Thurs eve into early Fri morning, I saw one of the suspects stripped naked and put into a patrol car in custody. How then, was he riddled in gun shots after? Also, with all the law enforcement we had there, how on earth did the second even get away? Lastly, if we knew from the man who discovered the second suspect in the boat that he was covered in blood lying inside, why did it take so long for ALL these law enforcement people to get him and why again was he riddled with bullets? They said there was an exchange offire, does that mean the 19 year old shot at them ? Why are we told the FBI will give us condition of this young man and not the doctors? I as many others hope he does survive so that we may get the answers regarding this terrosist attack he and his brother inflicted at the Marathon.

    April 20, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • jonainpdx

      Yeah I thought the same thing too and I was freaking out about it. But what happened was they arrested innocent guys, at about the same time as the last shoot out with the two brothers, and latter let them go. Since a mistaken arrest isn't big news, they just kept on rolling on the story and didn't bother to tell everybody that the one arrest was a mistake.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  15. Freedom Rocked1776-2008

    Peter, you've gotten some things right in the GWT. Bailout SOOO much of your analysis is just crazy, navel-gazing, why-do-they-hate-us pap that sounds like it stems from self-loathing.

    The Boston marathon was a target of incredible opportunity. Pure and simple.

    And the Chechen brothers are jihadis. The nexus is no more complicated than that, and trying to make it so is dangerous.

    April 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
  16. George Patton

    Answers
    1 through 7. They were Muslims first, Americans second.

    April 20, 2013 at 9:40 am | Reply
    • Alex279

      Does not necessarily true. "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was born American and had no Muslim background whatsoever.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:35 am | Reply
      • Freedom Rocked1776-2008

        Incorrect. Lindh converted to Islam in high school, with his parents uninformed permission, and studied both here in the US and in Yemen.

        April 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Joe

      I found this and I was curious why Islam is so different in different places and it explains alot in itself. Islam is a heterogeneous religion that recognizes no authoritative source of doctrinal interpretation like the Pope. The lack authoritative source of doctrinal interpretation means that Islam lacks a hierarchal structure like the Catholic church and anyone can interpret the Koran and other religious scriptures anyway they like. This makes Islam more egalitarian and democratic in some ways but also makes it easier for Muslim extremists to gain influence and promulgate their views.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  17. DEC

    Peter Bergen = NO CREDIBILITY

    April 20, 2013 at 8:33 am | Reply

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