Three were killed and more than 100 were injured. Two explosive devices (at least) were used. The target was not the military, or even government officials that could be characterized as having a legitimate role in military affairs. That makes it terrorism. Terrorism has a goal of inflicting terror in an otherwise unafflicted population. It does so by making a population feel as if the terrorists can strike at will against whomever they desire. It does so by making security and government officials appear incapable of protecting the populace from the terrorists. It has a goal of convincing the population to force the government to bow to its desires. It does so, for a profit.
It does not matter if the terrorists are white, arab, asian, black, or hispanic. An act of terrorism is terrorism, period. Terrorism is not just a prank, like setting a trashcan on fire, and not just a crime conducted by organized crime.
It is not just a crime, but also an act of war. It is not just an act of war, but a war crime. As an act of war, the Geneva Convention affords that those involved can be held, without trial, until the cessation of hostilities. As war criminals, the Geneva Conventions hold that they can be tried, and if convicted, held beyond the end of hostilities. In particular circumstances, the Geneva Conventions afford a death penalty to war criminals, including those who use terrorism as a tactic or strategy.
While there is no substantial proof in public that this was an act of international terrorism, there is less evidence that it was a case of domestic terrorism. While the media pontificated yesterday that it could have been an innocent natural gas explosion, and when they finally abandoned that theory turned to suggesting it was domestic, their reasoning for both suggestions was flawed.
One of their "explanations" was that the devices were too crude and too small. Everyday, more crude and smaller bombs, aka IED's, are used in places like India, Israel, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, and Pakistan. In fact, the documented cases of using a pressure cooker bomb have ties to the Taliban, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even in New York City's Times Square.
Another of their suggestions was that it was "tax day." The McVeigh types have less connection to 4/15 than they do to 4/19. The 19th of April is the anniversary of Waco, of Ruby Ridge, and of the Murrah Building attack in Oklahoma City, and events deeper in History. One would hope that the backlash from OKC would be enough to force the McVeigh types re-think such a tactic. In the aftermath, American recoiled against such groups, and McVeigh's hopes that it would turn into a Revolution fell flat on the reality that we don't like people killing kids, or attacking unarmed civilians. The terrorist attack in OKC hurt his "cause" far more than anything the government has ever done.
Moreover, the McVeigh types have a beef with the government, not those running the Boston streets. Their target is far more likely to be a federal government installation than a sporting event.
Some have suggested that the Boston Marathon was "not international" or "not global enough" to be a viable target for Islamist terrorists. First, Islamists don't need a target to be international, but this was by far international. More than 90 countries were represented by the runners. Nearly half the nations in the world were represented. That's international! Al-Qaeda in particular does not need an international flavor to an attack. The Times Square attack was less international than this. They gain financial support by attacking Americans. They have a stated position that ALL Americans are considered to be militants, regardless of whether they are running the streets of Boston, or defending a base in Eastern Afghanistan.
Some whackos have suggested that US Government agents conducted the attack on orders of top US politicians. Simply idiotic. Politicians will use any event that pops up to make themselves sound more compassionate, stronger, and get their pet legislation passed, but they have no need to create the events. There are enough psychos out there that will create the events for them.
But the question of the common man is "What can or should I do?!?!" The answer is to reach down inside, and find your resolve, your resolve to not be afraid. There were more people killed and injured on the streets of Massachusetts by traffic accidents, than by explosives, last week. Of 310 Million Americans, this act of terrorism only killed 3 people. We don't fear cars, nor phones on which text messaging has become the number one factor in accident fatalities.
That does not mean that you should pretend terrorism does not exist. You should have a plan for what you would do if someone entered your building or office or shopping mall with a bomb, or even a firearm. You should think about this NOW. You should decide NOW, under what circumstances you would KILL the attacker, and consider the means you would use. You should decide NOW how you would assist the injured, learn how to help the injured, and when your duties would require instead that you protect your child or others.
And you should come to grips with the fact that following an explosive event, your pure intentions to help, could mean that you're just a person in the way. You should come to grips with the fact that an explosion occurs in a split second. You need not fear it. An explosion will kill some, injure others, and leave others unscathed. It is over in an instant. There is little anyone can do about it, and most victims of it have no idea it is coming. You can keep your eye out for suspicious behavior, for suspicious packages, and avoid them, or report them.
What else can you do? You can give to Pro-Troop and Catastrophic events Non-Profits. The American Red Cross not only runs blood banks, but assists with victims, in these types of events, as well as natural catastrophies. If you give in the name of this event, they may use your money for the next one. Our Troops are on the front lines, risking their lives on a daily basis for your safety.
You can pressure your politicians, your Congressman, your Senator, to call terrorism what it is, and to continue to take the fight to the enemy, rather than to bow to pressure to prematurely "end" a war the enemy has no intention of ending.
You can educate yourself on the enemy. You don't have to know the differences in theology of Sunni, Shia, Bahai, Salafi, and Sufi, but you should have a concept of the atrocities of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Weather Underground, and the Animal Liberation Foundation. You should understand the difference between Islamsists and Muslims.
You must come to grips with the fact that evil does exist in the world, that there are a minority of psychotic people who will kill, maim, injure, or steal from you, for nothing more than their own personal entertainment, but possibly by justifying their actions as "part of the greater good," or even to "teach you a lesson." What stands between you and evil, are the Sheepdogs, Military and Law Enforcement, but when the Wolf knocks on your door, it is YOU that is your first defense, no matter how willing the Sheepdog is to deal death to the Wolf that would do you harm.
"Situational Awareness" or being observant and alert to the world around you, to the possibility of evil knocking on your door, is your most potent defense. Paranoia is your enemy, as is anger and blissful ignorance, but recognizing when someone is behaving abnormally can save your life. If the hair on the back of your neck stands up, don't ignore it. Explore why your subconscious is warning you.
Having a plan, preconceived, of what you would do, if you were confronted with any variety of bad situations will help you, if you face any of them. The fewer responses you can identify for the greatest number of incidents is the best. People "freeze" because their mind is overwhelmed, and cannot decide between responses. Decide, and consider, ahead of time, for as many events as you can imagine.
But don't stick your head back in the sand, and don't allow fear to stop you from doing the things you must do. Live your life, but be aware of your surroundings. Support Our Troops, and their mission to keep you safe, but be ready if the enemy slips in, to your door. The Israelis have done it for decades. Our Troops volunteered to fight the enemy in their backyard, so you could be safe in yours.
Laughing Wolf has additional tips for planning for and acting in an emergency situation (natural disaster or terrorist attack) and Assoluta Tranquillita has more common sense to add to the discussion.