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Awaiting the evidence in the Boston blasts case: Praveen Swami

Updated: April 16, 2013, 6:30 PM IST
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Awaiting the evidence in the Boston blasts case: Praveen Swami
Security analyst Praveen Swami joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Boston Marathon bomb blasts.

Will the Boston Marathon bomb blasts lead the US to rethink its Afghan disengagement programme or will it concentrate on West Asia? Security analyst and senior journalist Praveen Swami joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. What is the retaliatory action expected from the administration in USA and what additional security plans will come on scene? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Hi! I think its a little early to discuss retaliatory action and so on-investigators aren't certain who did it yet. 'If' the attacks are traced back to the Middle-East or Pakistan, and 'if' the plot-leaders are locatable, then you might see drone or other forms of attacks--but that's a lot of 'ifs'. Let's wait and see.

Q. What is the possibility of al Qaeda hand in this attack.. Asked by: Rama

A. Its possible. Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and other organisations have long sought to carry out strikes in the West. There have also been so-called "homegrown" jihadists in the US, some sympathetic to al-Qaeda, with the same objective. There have been 63 such "homegrown" attacks since 9/11, four of them successful. Having said that, there is no evidence yet that al-Qaeda is involved. White supremacists and neo-Nazis have also staged a lot of attacks in the US in recent years. So let's wait, and see the evidence as it comes in.

Q. Obama has committed to AFPAK withdrawal,since they have problem of affordability. It is the Pakistan Government keeping them there to get FIN assistance in lieu. Can Afghan /Taliban go on war with Pakistan? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Interesting question. Well, Pakistani Taliban are already at war with Pakistan, and killing their soldiers virtually every day. Elements in Afghanistan support them. The Pakistan army is very divided on whether it wants the US to leave the region or not. Elements think this will help Pakistan do a deal with the jihadist groups who are attacking it currently. Other elements think Pakistan can't do without US aid and support, and that its withdrawal will hurt them. In the short term, it's unlikely the US will completely pack and go; drone strikes and special forces will continue to remain in place.

Q. Don't you think it has been done by jihadis? Asked by: abdul rasool

A. The simple answer to that is-I don't know. One thing we know is that jihadis have been threatening and planning such strikes in the past. The other thing we know is that white supremacists and neo-Nazis also have the capacity to stage such attacks, and as we saw with the Oklahoma bombings, the desire also. So it could be any of these groups, as things stand. We'll have to wait and see what evidence investigators come up with.

Q. Do you see (speculate) Pakistan hand? Asked by: Dinu, Toronto

A. There's no evidence of that yet. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that jihadis carried it out, it could be one of many groups hostile to Pakistan. I doubt very much that Pakistan will be shown to be directly involved, but then, at this stage, anything is possible.

Q. Why do you think White Supremacists could have been behind this? Asked by: Swamy_2900

A. I don't think this-I'm saying it is possible, which is a different thing. Timothy McVeigh, a white supremacist, carried out the biggest terrorist attack in the United States before 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing. Since 2009, US government figures show, there's been a sharp uptick in attacks by White Supremacists (who, by the way, have killed almost 300 Americans since 9/11). The white supremacists hate Barack Obama because of his race, and want to bring the state down. A government report even called them the "greatest national security threat". So, when we consider who 'might' have done this, we have to consider this also.

Q. Will this incident give a wrong excuse to our leaders that such incidents are a proof that they can not be totally done away and get excused for lack of their performances in our places? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I really hope not! Of 64 home grown plots in the US since 9/11, only four have succeeded-and none is totally unsolved. That is a much, much better rate than ours. Yes, it is true nowhere is totally immune to terrorism, but there is better performance and worse performance--and ours hasn't been great. We have a lot to learn today from how Boston handled the attack, which you read more about at our sister online channel, www.firstpost.com

Q. Will the drone attacks intensify after this? or a new government in pakistan might not allow US to do this? Asked by: pallavi

A. That depends where the attacks are traced to. If the attacks are traced to a group in Pakistan's border areas, then yes. I think the government of Pakistan will continue with its current policy, which is to publicly deny it is allowing drone strikes, but secretly allow the United States to continue operating them from its airbases.

Q. Is the US no longer invincible? Asked by: Maya Jagannathan

A. Invincible is a big word! Nowhere is immune to terrorism; no. But, tragic as it is, the attack in Boston was not very big or a strategic threat to the US. As I mentioned, there have been 64 homegrown operations since 9/11-so it was just a matter of time before one got through.

Q. Is it a possibility that North Korea might be behind this? Asked by: Suket

A. Very unlikely, I think-though its not, again, impossible. North Korea has carried out a number of terrorist operations, but I think it would have been tough for them to carry out something like this--and also pointless, since their objective is to extract concessions from the United States and South Korea, not start a war.

Q. Do you think when American Army will withdraw from Afghanistan more such attack will happen on India by Taliban? Asked by: ram sharma

A. Perhaps. The reason we have seen a decline in terrorism since 9/11 is largely US pressure on Pakistan. That could diminish once the US pulls out. However, there is a flip side--which is that Pakistan doesn't want a full-scale crisis with India at a time when it is internally very vulnerable. There is also a flip-flip-side, which is that some in Pakistan think a crisis with India would help unite the country. So, basically, there are a lot of moving pieces in this puzzle-and India needs to be very careful.

Q. If it were a remote operated blast why was it not detonated when there were far more spectators there? Why in your opinion was the 2nd blast that far and bigger than the 1st!!! Asked by: vishal sinha

A. We don't know anything yet about the bomb forensics or the trigger mechanism, and there's no point speculating-you can't tell very much from TV images. There are experts working on this; let their findings come in!

Q. Tough times ahead for Pakistan? What do you think? Asked by: Mani

A. Yes-its going through a very troubled and difficult period, that is tearing the country apart.

Q. After 9/11 a major incident,where so far no one claims credit. Could it be an internal act? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. That's highly likely, I think-though terrorist groups often don't take credit for what they've done, for a variety of reasons.

Q. I read on CNN that a mid-east group is suspected to be behind.. Could it be the LeT? Asked by: Maya Jagannathan

A. Well, again, could be-there's no evidence of either yet, though.

Q. Do you think the world will be a peaceful place soon ever? Asked by: Kamal sinha

A. Some experts believe its more peaceful than every before already--take a look at http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html. Every age has a tendency to look back at past ages with nostalgia-but those past ages weren't all that nice either.

Q. Let's say its Arab world, and US decides to retaliate, won't the gap widen further or US will try to restrain itself, if attackers are independent players? Asked by: arun

A. I don't think the US is keen to be dragged into a war-so unless some fairly compelling evidence emerges that a nation-state sponsored this attack, I don't think that will happen.

Q. Vietnam defeat, Iraq no WMD find, AFPAK no success, and still provoking North Korea and Iran. Is this Big Brother attitude creating a hate for USA or is it the religious tones which is setting groups against USA? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Let's wait on the evidence, again-this could well turn out to be a group within the United States. It could also turn out to be jihadist group, or a crazed individual. Analysis should follow the evidence, not the other way around.

Q. Your write-up on Firstpost was so nice and thought provoking.. Congrats Asked by: Iyengar

A. Thank you!

Q. The police are looking for a "darker skinned or black male with a possible foreign accent" do they have footage? Also, an injured Saudi citizen is the hospital under guard, any more info on these points? Asked by: vihan

A. I understand there is a lot of video footage, both from street CCTV and private individuals. The police are looking for these individuals to question them on suspicion-not because there is anything solid yet. That may or may not emerge when these individuals are detained and questioned. The Saudi individual is under guard, but not arrested-and perhaps may not be in the future. After every attack, dozens of people are questioned. In India, we tend to get a little touchy about these things, but frankly, police need to do this-every quarter-lead is valuable in these situations.

Q. Such incidents create an impact on the market and business scene. What is your guess on the effect of this incident on NYSE ? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. You'll have to ask an economist, but I doubt it'll be very big-this isn't the first terrorist attack in the United States, and I think the markets understand it won't be the last either. Terrorism is something that people across the world have factored in to their calculations.

Q. What can ever combat terrorism? Are we just going to helplessly die, or discuss how someone or the other got killed? Asked by: Kamal sinha

A. Kamal, I think we are combating terrorism-remember, in the US, most attacks since 9/11 have been interdicted. Ditto Europe. Even in India, many plots have been stopped. The question in India is how we can do better.

Q. If it were a jihadi attack,do you think the Americans would reconsider there Afghanistan with drawl which in that case is India beneficial . Asked by: vishal sinha

A. No, I don't think they'll reconsider-staying on in Afghanistan won't prevent attacks like this, after all. However, I think there will be closer attention to the details of maintaining a counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan--assuming, of course, that the attack is traced back to this region.

Q. Bomb blast at Marathon. Whether it is Afghan or North Korean issue? The Iraq invasion, threat to IRAN,support to Israel are also issue which have strong Anti-USA sentiments. Which one of these was the anger for the perpetrators of the terror? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I think its best to wait and find out who the perpetrators were before offering an opinion on their motives!

Q. Just got the news that the investigation is pointing towards Saudi link..who are the possibilities there.. Asked by: Raka

A. I'm afraid I haven't heard that, so will hold back on comment for now (thought it might be true).

Q. Shootings and blasts killing innocents does no help to the cause of activists. Still the practice is gaining ground. Why? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I think its because terrorists think killings help-by attracting attention to their cause, by giving their own supporters confidence, etc. Also, I don't think terrorism is a new phenomenon that is gaining ground-it is hundreds of years old, as a tactic.

Q. Will these Politicians, Leaders so called society representative stop to miss guide innocent people for their own advantages? Asked by: Rahul Kaushal

A. That's a tough one-as long as people are willing to be misled, I guess there will be someone around to mislead them. More important, I don't think terrorists think they are misled-they think they are people with a cause. You and I might disagree, of course, but the people who blow up bombs believe they are right to do so.

Q. What ever be the reason It is really sad to see innocents are being killed in US, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, India etc. Is there any end to this? Asked by: prthap

A. Simple answer, as a history student: no. War is as much part of human nature as peace, sadly.

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