The pair of bombs that blasted havoc into the Boston Marathon last week fueled anger, sadness and a sense of vulnerability our country hasn’t felt in years.
The news of the two bombs, which killed three people and injured dozens more, was covered instantly by the national media. It was all over the news: TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet.
On more than one occasion, I heard so-called experts call it the first “successful” terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Looking at newspaper front pages that day, it might seem so.
Big, bold headlines filled newspapers coast to coast: “TERROR AT HOME” in The Bakersfield Californian; “Who? Why?” in the Oakfield, Calif., Tribune; “TERROR RETURNS” in USA Today; and “DAY OF TERROR” in the Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Texas. Several papers ran the headline “Boston Massacre,” while others chose “U.S. on High Alert.”
Talk of the bombings was endless on TV and radio news stations, and rightfully so. It was a horrific act and the entire country was concerned for the people in Boston. But for experts and news anchors to call it the first successful act of terrorism since 9/11 may play a pivotal role in how history records similar events, that may or may not include bombs.
To call the Boston bombings the first successful terrorist plot since the Sept. 11 attacks is to say that the Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, was not a terroristic attack. Yes, the accused shooter used guns – not bombs – in his planned out attack. Yes, the attack was carried out on Army post – not a street full of civilians. And, yes, the accused attacker is a member of the U.S. Army.
However, one of the major issues in Maj. Nidal Hasan’s pre-trial hearings and upcoming murder trial has been the classification of Hasan as a “terrorist.”
The Defense Department has classified the shooting – which claimed 13 lives and injured 32 others – as a case of workplace violence. Investigations into Hasan’s past, however, paint him as a radical Muslim, angered over the U.S. wars abroad and influenced by a known terrorist the U.S. assassinated last year. As Hasan’s pre-trial hearings moved forward last year, one expert witness from the prosecution called him a “home-grown terrorist.”
I understand the Defense Department, and all the U.S. government for that matter, wanting to hold off on labeling the act as “terrorism” until a verdict is reached for Hasan.
But for the rest of us, common sense included, we can look at what happened and call it what it is.
It’s clear someone went into Soldier Readiness Processing Center that day, and started shooting innocent people in cold blood. The building, and the area around the building, was filled with screams and blood. No, it wasn’t a street in Boston or New York City, but terror was alive and well that day. And, unfortunately, it was a “successful” attack.
Our nation, our terrorism experts and journalists from coast to coast need to take note: The Boston bombing, as tragic as it was, was not the first “successful” act of terrorism since 9/11. The Fort Hood shooting was.
No one should forget that, especially the history books.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.