Welcome to the Fast Five. This week, we’ll be covering the Boston Marathon bombing in greater depth.
Boston Marathon bombed on Monday
Tragedy struck last Monday when two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. At about 2:50 pm, two explosions occurred near the finish line. The explosions were later determined to have been caused by two small homemade explosive devices. Three people lost their lives in the attack, including an 8-year-old boy. Almost 180 people were wounded in the attack; many lost limbs, or were otherwise permanently maimed. At the time the nature of the bombings was unclear, but President Obama labeled the attacks an “act of terrorism” the following day.
Media commits numerous errors; Internet spreads false information
As is often the case after such a sudden tragedy, the media suffered several difficulties in reporting accurate information. Most notably, the New York Post claimed to have inside information that a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian national was implicated in the attacks. That turned out to be false, though the man was apparently investigated in what some have called an act of racial profiling. Similar errors occurred on social media sites. Posters on Reddit believed that a missing student from Brown University was depicted in a photo of the suspects released by the FBI. That also turned out to be false, though not before the student’s family was harassed by numerous commenters.
Shootout in Watertown leads to capture of perpetrators
In the wake of the Boston bombing, a shooting was reported on the campus of MIT on Thursday. Later that night, reports came in of gunshots and explosions in the Boston suburb of Watertown. During the course of the night, it was determined that the culprits responsible for the shooting at MIT and explosions in Watertown were also the men responsible for the bombing on Monday. One of the men, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a shootout with police. His brother, Dzhokar, 19, was taken into custody Friday and is currently sedated.
Possible connection to Chechnya
Among the many unknowns remaining following the capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev is his motive behind the attacks. An answer may lie in his origins: the Tsarnaev brothers are from Chechnya, a small republic located in the Caucasus. Chechnya is currently occupied by Russia, and the Russian government participated in counterterrorism efforts in Boston following the bombings. Some have taken this as a sign that Chechen groups were behind the attacks, but it is still far too early to tell. While the connection is still unclear, it's worthwhile to at least take the time to learn a bit about Chechnya.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev denied his Miranda rights
Controversy erupted this weekend over the government’s handling of the capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, specifically relating to whether he was denied due process. Tsarnaev has yet to be given his Miranda rights (“You have the right to an attorney,” etc.), though he has been held by the government since Friday evening. Supporters of this move say that the government has the power to suspend those rights under what is known as the public-safety exception, while critics argue that such a move erodes civil liberties and creates a dangerous precedent. Some Republican lawmakers now want to declare Tsarnaev an enemy combatant, a designation which in this case has no precedent and no legal basis.