Almost five weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing that claimed three lives and injured more than 260, with many finish-line observers losing lower limbs, lots of questions still remain. But some major queries have been seemingly solved.On April 30 at a White House press conference, President Obama stressed that terrorist acts by self-radicalized individuals are the big threat today because they are much harder to detect and prevent. Although he didn’t specifically say the Tsarnaev brothers were among this growing domestic group, the connection was obvious.The president pointed out, “Because of the pressure we’ve put on [Al Qaeda] networks that are well-financed and more sophisticated and can engage in and project transnational threats against the United States, one of the dangers that we now face are self-radicalized individuals who are already here in the United States — and in some cases, may not be part of any kind of network.“But because of whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have, may decide to carry out an attack. And those are in some ways more difficult to prevent.”Defending the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies for not apprehending the suspects before they allegedly did their horrendous deed, he simply observed, “This is hard stuff.”Tamerlan, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19, Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston bombers, fit to the T the model of homegrown self-radicalized terrorists, whose primary motivation is to commit a retaliatory attack drawing attention to the violence against Muslims in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Robert Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of the acclaimed 2005 book, “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.” The director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism wrote in a recent opinion piece in The Boston Globe how the YouTube account of Tamerlan “reveals a deep interest in Salafism,” the fundamental offshoot of Sunni Islam to which Osama bin Laden swore allegiance. “But this does not mean the Boston bombers were directed by Al Qaeda, or part of a broader Islamic conspiracy,” he stressed.Pape also noted that while the older brother’s newfound interest in radical Islam probably played a role in the April 15 tragedy, it wasn’t the role most Americans were likely to believe. “Religious fundamentalism is a consequence — not a cause — of politically motivated anger,” he explained. Cyberspace recruitsLast year, Peter Neumann, a professor of security studies at King’s College in London, authored “Countering Online Radicalization in America” for the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded by former U.S. Senate majority leaders. The executive summary points out that Al Qaeda, Sovereign Citizens, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, environmental and animal liberationists, and other violent extremist groups “all have embraced the Internet with great enthusiasm and vigor.” Why?Because cyberspace is a ready, and ever-growing, source of recruits — especially vulnerable youths and young adults. To target these tech-savvy individuals, terror websites often feature flashy graphics along with music videos, chat rooms and online forums. And before the young viewers even realize it, they’re hit with the extremist’s message. In the case of radical jihadists, it invariably boils down to Islam is under attack by the United States and its hostile western partners, so defending brother Muslims against these infidels becomes a sacred religious duty. The center’s report, under the direction of former Republican Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey and Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton of Indiana, found that counter measures focused on censoring or taking down radical websites not only raised serious First Amendment issues but also wasn’t effective. Instead, it urged the government to play a bigger role in getting “credible messengers” — like victims of terrorism and former extremists — to tell their compelling counter-stories online, too. The report ends with a dire warning: “Arguably, the use of the Internet to radicalize and recruit homegrown terrorists is the single-most important and dangerous innovation since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This should remind us that dealing with online radicalization must not be a one-off effort. As the Internet keeps changing, so do the methods of those who want to use it to spread hate and incite terror.”No Al Qaeda cellA professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, who is a practicing follower of Islam, readily agrees with Pape and Neumann that the Tsarnaev brothers may be the latest example of self-radicalized young men. Professor Amir Hussain cautioned that obviously the investigation of the Boston bombings is ongoing, with more information likely to come out. “But clearly it seems from what we know so far that these guys weren’t involved with an Al Qaeda cell or something like that,” Hussain told The Tidings. “Maybe they were marginalized and discriminated against and treated as foreigners because they didn’t speak English properly and those kinds of things? “The problem is that doesn’t happen to the vast majority of American Muslims. By all measures, we’re just as educated, just as wealthy,” he said. “We’re the doctors, lawyers, engineers, which is very different from Muslims in Europe, where — broadly speaking — Muslims are the underclass. Muslims in America are, for the most part, completely assimilated success stories.” Hussain also believes the Internet probably played a big part in how the suspects became radicalized, noting that America’s First Amendment unfortunately means there are all sorts of easily accessed hate websites online. In his day, the most radical thing available was “The Anarchist Cookbook,” with its notorious bomb-making instructions. But, he notes, it was necessary to send away for it and wait days or weeks before it arrived in the mail.Additionally, the theology professor brought up a moral issue that’s been hotly debated not only by theologians but an increasing number of lawmakers — drones.“People, of course, respond at a very visceral level to the killing of innocents, particularly the killing of innocent children,” he said. “I think that’s where Newtown [Connecticut, site of multiple killings last Dec. 14] hit us so hard. So it’s a discussion that we in America need to be having about what’s happening in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places: What are we doing with drone warfare? Who are we killing? You know, everyone killed in a drone attack currently is counted as a military casualty, even if they’re civilians.”After a moment, Hussain mused, “We American Muslims, of course, don’t see America as this country that is terrorizing other countries. We see America as this great beacon of liberty, freedom that has brought many of us here. The danger is if your experience of America is seeing on television a family grieving over a child killed by a military explosion. It’s very hard to deal with that.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0510/boston/{/gallery}