Friday, October 28, 2016

Triple-Threat Attacks on US Soil Hint at Terrorist Planning

Within 12 hours of the September 17-18 weekend, the United States East Coast was rocked by a series of seemingly unconnected attacks: two explosions – one in New York and another in New Jersey – and a stabbing assault in a Minnesota mall. None of these incidents at first glance seem to have any links, but all have revealed elements to investigators of being planned as terror attacks.

The Washington Post reports that both federal and local law agencies have raised the possibility of terrorist connections in the two bombings and the stabbing, and are now focused on finding out how the attacks were carried out and the motives behind them.

The first attack was at the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. With its concentration of subway stations, eating places, shops and art galleries, the explosive device – hidden in a dumpster when triggered – was guaranteed to hit a lot of people, 29 being wounded at the moment of detonation.

Security camera footage on the scene managed to catch the image of a suspicious individual at the scene before the explosion, located a few blocks away moments later where an equally suspect package was later found: a pressure cooker with wires connected by duct tape to a cellular phone. It should be noted that the bombs used on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, resulting in three fatalities and 260 injuries, was made out of a repurposed pressure cooker too. The discovered possible second bomb has since been removed for investigation.

The second attack was prepared at was to be the route of the US Marine Corps Seaside Semper Five charity run in New Jersey. Investigators located the device, hidden in a garbage can on the roadside, described as three individual homemade “pipe bombs” strung together with wires to a cellphone detonator. Bomb experts noted that the device was crudely assembled; only one bomb exploded while the other two didn’t. Furthermore, the Semper Five Run was significantly delayed due to problems at the pre-race registration, meaning there were no people yet on the path and around the area when the device exploded. Nevertheless the charity event was cancelled as investigators and search dogs combed the area for any other surprises.

Finally, a lone man of reported Somali descent went into a rampage inside the Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, not long after the previous two incidents. Dressed as a private security guard, the suspect went on to stab eight people, wounding them. Witnesses reported the man muttering Arabic and even asking one of his victims if he was a Muslim before attacking. An off-duty police officer repeatedly shot the man until dead, when he continued trying to attack even after being wounded by the gunfire. Later, terror group ISIS identified the perpetrator as one of their “soldiers” on its Amaq news website.

The three attacks have put the nation on high alert even as authorities try to get to the bottom of all these. Meanwhile, the Muslim Community of St. Cloud, one of Minnesota’s largest, has expressed grief for the incidents and concern for possible backlash actions against them.

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