, Salem, MA


April 24, 2013

Our view: New front in the war on terror will be a tough fight


On Thursday, the FBI released photos of the then-unknown suspects, making their identification a matter of time. Late that night, the brothers allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer, hijacked a car, robbed the driver, and led police on a chase into neighboring Watertown as they lobbed explosives at the cops from their speeding vehicle. There, they engaged in a gun battle with police that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar on the run.

After a daylong manhunt that shut down Boston and its suburbs on the north bank of the Charles River, Dzhokhar was captured alive hiding in a stored boat in a home’s backyard.

Dzhokhar is recovering in the hospital and reportedly is talking to investigators. We may learn more about what motivated the brothers to go on their terror spree.

Already, there is speculation that Tamerlan, who had recently spent six months in Chechnya, may have received terrorist training there. The design of the pressure-cooker bomb comes from an al-Qaida Internet pamphlet for would-be jihadis. We may never learn the full extent of their link with known terrorist organizations.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may not have been bona-fide al-Qaida operatives sent on a mission to terrorize Americans. But they surely were fellow travelers with the al-Qaida philosophy.

It’s one thing to wage war against a terrorist organization that has facilities, installations and a leadership structure to attack. It’s another matter to fight a philosophy of hatred.

One day, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a well-liked college student — an all-American boy, despite the unusual name. The next day, he’s allegedly blowing up men, women and little kids with a homemade bomb.

If this is the new front in the war on terror, we will be hard-pressed to defeat it.

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