We don’t know very much about the explosions that occurred in New York, but we do know these acts were intentional. We also know they were intended to cause harm. That’s terrorism. It wasn’t revenge or a lover’s quarrel; it was designed to terrorize. Governor Cuomo made a statement saying that the NYC explosion was obviously an act of terrorism, but wasn’t connected to international terrorism. He’s not qualified to make that statement with authority. What’s most concerning is the general lack of concern. Mayor De Blasio attempted to calm New Yorkers by saying, “There’s no specific and credible threat against New York City at this time from any terror organization.” But we’ve no idea what’s going on right now.

Terrorism’s driving impact is the fear of the unknown. You can’t rule anything out. I’ve already seen a string of memes on my social media showing that New Yorkers weren’t concerned about the explosions. 9/11 occurred over a decade ago, and many who post the memes were not present during those attacks. Veterans with combat experience were likely concerned, but the average person has become desensitized.

Following a possible connected string of attacks beginning in New Jersey and ending in New York last night, the press had little to say. I don’t think we need to sit back and assume someone else is taking care of it. Journalists can explore the possibility of a very real, coordinated, albeit not necessarily hugely successful, pattern of explosions. People were hospitalized. Those who did it were able to enjoy the NFL Sunday ticket. No big deal.

But now, the FBI is treating the Minnesota mall stabbing attack as a potential act of terrorism. New details have emerged via sources in NYC that place a man at the scene of the explosions in Chelsea. The NYPD has said that video shows the same man at both NYC blast sites.

Here’s what we know about the attacks:

  1. More than one individual was responsible. They employed tactical craft to carry out the attack, it appears. In a video obtained by the NYPD, a man with a duffel bag dropped off the pressure cooker. Then, two other people took the bag. The other two men possibly maintained observation posts to ensure the man with the duffel wasn’t followed. They then carried on with their roles in the operation. This is advanced technique beyond that shown by the younger and relatively ideologically immature extremists behind the Boston attack. If these terrorists are employing tactical security measures to carry out their operations, they’re militants.
  2. They used a pressure cooker device. A pressure cooker can be used as an oversized pipe bomb, and allows time to egress after emplacement. A pressure cooker has explosive material placed inside, along with projectiles like shrapnel, nails, bolts, ball bearings, etc. The pressure cooker is similar to the EFPs (Explosively Formed Projectile) favored by Shia militants in Iraq and eventually exported to Afghanistan. It’s designed to maim and kill. It deals out carnage and pain. It’s not designed strictly to inflict a massive loss of life.
NYC pressure cooker explosion: A foreboding indication of things to come?
Pressure cooker schematic used for Boston Marathon bombing. Image courtesy of usatoday.com

Considering the nature of the pressure cooker bomb and the possible security tactics used by the suspects to ensure operational success, this may be a sign of a real threat. These blasts might be shaping events, and could potentially be used as a means to test the response times and preparedness of federal and local law enforcement. The terrorists would also be on close watch to gauge how the public responds. Because the average citizen dictates the operational environment, the militants will use their observations to better inform how best to carry out their grisly work.

These blasts shouldn’t be scoffed at on your social media page, but should instead be taken seriously, because you might be next. Eternal vigilance is the price of a democracy. We are responsible for paying attention and taking personal responsibility for our surroundings. Otherwise, officials are forced to cast such a wide net, they’ll never find in time those who wish to do harm.

Featured image courtesy of nbcnews.com.