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Terrorism and The Month of April

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 15: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick addresses the media regarding mulitple explosions during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 at the Westin Hotel Copley in Boston, Massachusetts. Appearing with him are U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (L), Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (2nd from R) and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers. Three people are confirmed dead and at least 141 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Unlike common criminals that may attack randomly or due to opportunity, terrorists place significant importance to certain historical dates. The February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was supposed to take place three days earlier that would have been the date that troops were sent to Iraq two years earlier.

September 11, 1683 is the date Poland defeated the Turks at the Battle of Vienna. Bin Laden felt he was reigniting a war that had ended over 300 years ago with the 9/11 attack.

April Is International Terrorist Month

April is not officially recognized that way by countries, but terrorists, particularly our homegrown variety, place significant importance on some April dates.

April 19th

  • America hatters especially like April 19th. The Revolutionary War began on that date at Lexington and Concord.
  • April 19, 1993 is the day the Branch Davidian Compound was burned in Waco, Texas.
  • It’s also the date Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

April 20

This date is very popular with domestic extremists and the White Aryan Movement.

  • April 20, 1889 is the birthdate of Adolph Hitler. Neo-Nazis groups have used this date to carry out a variety of domestic attacks against Jews, Blacks and others.
  • On April 20, 1999, Erik Harris and Dylan Kelbold attacked Columbine High School the final death toll was 15 including the two shooters.
  • April 20, 1985: The ATF raided the compound of the Covenant, The Sword and the Arm of the Lord. The CSA had known connections to Aryan Nations and the KKK.
  • April 20 could also be an important date to Islamic extremists because many believe it’s the birth date of Muhammad.

Terrorist or Criminal

Since 9/11 there has been a spirited discussion on whether to treat terrorists as common criminals that can be tried in open court or whether they are war criminals and should appear before a military tribunal. There are significant differences between the two.

Terrorists almost always have monetary support and extensive training. Unlike the criminal, their goals are most often symbolic or based on a particular ideology. The criminal is almost always going after monetary gain, looks for easy targets, has no backing or support system, is rarely disciplined and will often run when confronted by equal or superior assistance.

Terrorists waste little time appearing before TV cameras while the criminal hides and waits for the next opportunities. Criminals operate in neighborhoods while terrorists operate worldwide with a variety of sanctuaries and safe houses.

Some Final Thoughts

There is a common misconception that we’ve not been attacked since 9/11 until the Boston explosions yesterday. There have been multiple attacks against the US that have been thwarted by the FBI and other federal agencies. The vast majority of these successful interventions are due to vigilance by ordinary citizens reporting suspicious behavior.

Most terrorists practice their attacks before hand. They monitor security systems and security officer’s behaviors, shift changes and lunch schedules. These acts often create suspicion to casual observers. While you have a better chance of drowning than being killed by a terrorist that’s little comfort to the victims or 9/11, the World Trade Center bombing, Oklahoma City or the Boston bombings yesterday.

We all have a responsibility to report any suspicious behavior. I know there is that nagging feeling, “What if I’m wrong?” “I’ll look like an idiot.” If you were wrong, wouldn’t it be easier to apologize than to be included in the body count?

If you see something suspicious please report it to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.

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