Tunnel Vision

If you’ve read this in-depth article, you might understand why Jahar Tsarnaev did what he did. If not ‘why’ then at least ‘how he came to that place.’ You might sleep a little easier than you did those first few nights after the bombing, when there was nowhere to point the finger.
You might keep your eyes open for any immigrant, Muslim, impressionable, pot-smoking, popular, even-keeled young boys with the ability to move back and forth between various social groups, who rarely but on occasion do speak of religion and conspiracy, who suffer economic stress, who have authoritarian figures in their lives with ties to jihad, who feel alone and disconnected, who’s parents never show up to their athletic endeavors, and whose tweets become increasingly erratic and hostile.

You will not have this fantastic article about the life story of the next bomber in advance. It’s much easier to see Jahar now, but this article is a collection of encounters with Jahar over the course of the last fifteen years of his life, between him and many different people. Each person, each instance, was only a sliver of the big picture. No one observer had enough information to piece together what he was planning.

Could there be similar traits and circumstances to look for next time? Possibly, but they could also be completely different. There could be a sick, disgruntled, atheist white female teenager growing up in Ohio right now on the path to violence.

I love the article, and I want to do everything I can to stop terrorism, but I’m not sure if profiling one bomber makes it more likely that we’ll catch or miss the next. It is possible that we’re doing both; heightening our senses to one type of offender while further neglecting potential criminals we do not yet know of.

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