Boston Bombing: NYT Reports, National Journal Speculates On 'Right-Wing, Antigovernment Extremist Groups'

Do I dare say it? Did The New York Times actually write a responsible article concerning the investigation of the Boston Terror Attack? The April 17 piece by Katharine Q. Seeyle, Scott Shane, and Michael S. Schmidt had no mentions of right-wing extremists –and the meretricious links to Patriots/Tax Day.  Additionally, the word “extremist” is only associated with a brief bit about “terrorist cookbooks,” which are available online.  By contrast, when you look at National Journal’s highly speculative story on Boston, the culprits are either al-Qaeda or right-wing domestic terror groups.  This development comes after initial reports that the trail has tragically grown cold.

Sadly, before the bodies were even cold the media were suggesting that conservatives or “right-wing extremists” could be behind the bombing.  Terabytes of digital data are still being combed through by investigators, and there's no proof solidly linking the so-called “right wing” of America -- those type of hate groups, by the way, are roundly repudiated by true conservatives -- was responsible for this senseless attack.  But that doesn't seem to matter to James Kitfield of the National Journal, who wrote yesterday morning:

[I]nitial evidence offers enticing clues that point in each of those directions—a foreign terrorist organization, likely affiliated with or inspired by al-Qaida and its strategy of striking the U.S. homeland; domestic terrorists, probably from the anti-federal-government, nativist Right, whose ranks have been growing in recent years; or a “lone wolf or wolves,” acting independently and inspired by an ideology yet to be determined.

"The real challenge for investigators and analysts is that the Boston attack could plausibly be the work of anyone on that short list of suspects, because both right-wing domestic extremist groups and al-Qaida and its affiliates have embraced this strategy of exhorting ‘lone wolves’ to act out on their own with terror attacks,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, a counterterrorism expert and author at the Rand Corporation. “And until we have more reliable evidence, any ‘who dunnit’ exercise is pure speculation.”

Thank you, Mr. Jenkins. But of course Kitfield couldn't let that go unanswered, and so he brought in  counterterrorism expert Philipp  Mudd to go back to the right wing extremism angle (emphasis mine):

Compared to all of those plots, which were quite sophisticated and frequently involved the multiple detonation of more powerful bombs, the Boston attack seems relatively rudimentary to me,” said Philipp Mudd, a former top counterterrorism expert at the FBI and CIA, and author of the new book Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda. The choice of a very soft target such as the marathon, rather than a harder, more iconic symbol of American power like the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the Federal Reserve, he said, does not suggest the culmination of a sophisticated, foreign-driven conspiracy years in the making.

“This feels like a simpler, smaller conspiracy, but we won’t know until more evidence is revealed,” Mudd said. “If this turns out to actually be an al-Qaida plot, my reaction will be, ‘Is that all you’ve got left?’ 

On the other hand, the timing of the attack on “Patriot’s Day,” which coincides with the April 15 deadline for filing federal taxes, suggests a possible link with right-wing, antigovernment extremist groups. Both the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building by antigovernment extremist Timothy McVeigh (168 dead, more than 680 injured) and the federal government’s siege of the Waco compound of sect leader David Koresh (76 dead) occurred in April. Both incidents remain potent symbols to antigovernment extremist groups.

"If the Boston attack turns out to be the work of right-wing extremists it really shouldn’t surprise us, because these groups are not a new threat, and they have been growing in numbers and power in recent years,” Mudd said. “What would be notable is that they are once again turning to terrorism as a tactic, which is increasingly common around the world.”

Kitfield’s headline is appropriately named “Plenty of Clues, Few Leads on Motive of Boston Marathon Bomber.”  With no solid information, it's pure speculation to suggest that a domestic right-wing group is responsible. What's more, if Kitfield and others in the media are going to speculate, it's quite curious that they fail to consider that, if the strike is domestic terrorism unconnected to any Islamist group, it's also plausible that the perpetrators have left-wing environmental or animal rights motivations. This nation has seen plenty of left-wing terrorism, from the Weather Underground to the Unabomber.  While Kitfield does mention the Unabomber, he fails to describe him as left-wing.  It's curious that the media fail to consider left-wing terroristic violence a possibility when evil acts like Monday's marathon bombings are executed.