Is it terrorism?

Yes. Explosive devices don’t go off in crowds by accident. Someone was trying to kill indiscriminately, which is the hallmark of terrorism.

So was President Obama wrong not to call it terrorism in his briefing, using instead the words “senseless loss” due to “explosions”? No. Until we know more, there’s no point in presidential labeling. Calling this terrorism would suggest different things to different people. To most, it would suggest a political act, when we don’t know that this was one.

Therefore, I have no problem with the way Obama handled the briefing.

If this does turn out to be Islamist terrorism, or terrorism by any well-organized political group, it will open a new chapter. We have always understood that terrorism in the form of planting explosive devices in crowded places was an option for al Qaeda and other such groups. Following 9/11, I was surprised that we didn’t experience this. When we didn’t, I assumed that al Qaeda wanted to do bigger things and chose not to use up its assets to commit low-level terrorism.

If an al Qaeda-like group, or some other competent organization, has decided to embark on this course, we’re in for a tough time.

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