Law Enforcement Probe Of The Boston Explosions

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Co-host Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Dina Temple-Raston about what law enforcement officials are trying to learn about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. She says the FBI has sent counter terrorism officials to the scene.


Federal authorities are looking into what happened in Boston today. The FBI has dispatched a counterterrorism team to investigate. Boston's local Joint Terrorism Task Force is also on the scene.

NPR counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston joins us now, with more on that. And Dina, it's very early, but is there any indication of what law enforcement is looking at here?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Look, when it's this early in an investigation, they're open to lots of possibilities. They're looking at domestic terrorism, as a start. There's not a sense that this is a core al-Qaida effort from overseas. Instead, officials are looking for something much more local and domestic terrorism groups that might, for example, have timed this attack to coincide with Tax Day, April 15th. Officials haven't ruled out that this could be some sort of lone wolf attack - not an organized group but rather, one disgruntled person working on his or her own.

SIEGEL: And what evidence would they be looking at, to try to figure out what happened?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, we understand that they're looking for unexploded devices near the race course. You know, there were hundreds of suspicious-package reports every day, and the FBI and local police have to follow those up. And if there are unexploded devices, that could provide a lot of leads because that's - the way the devices are built, fingerprints could've been left on them; or materials could be used to help investigators.

But again, they haven't found anything else, but they've got hundreds - actually, thousands of backpacks that are all there by the finish line, that belong to racers. And they need to go through each and every one of those with a dog - double-check, that sort of thing. So that's going to be a long, drawn-out process, I think.

SIEGEL: Not surprisingly, after these explosions in Boston, other cities have tightened security.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes. Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the White House, has more security. I spoke with the New York Police Department. They said they were dispatching their counterterrorism teams to major landmarks in New York City. I asked if there was a particular threat that worry them. They said there were no threats, but they do this as a matter of routine, when there are these sorts of attacks or threats in the United States. So this is all out of an abundance of caution. But at the same time, they are spreading out, and beefing up security.

SIEGEL: Let's talk about some of the things that haven't happened. We don't know of anybody claiming responsibility for this. We don't know of any message somewhere on the Internet saying this was done for some particular reason.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Exactly. There is no one who is taking credit. I think, also, we should know that there were lots of cameras that were around the race course, so there could be all kinds of clues; that they're flipping through videotape now, to try and see if they can see who might have placed these explosives either during the race or before the race.

So there are a lot of clues for them to go through; and it doesn't mean this is a dead end just because no one is taking responsibility, or they haven't pinned blame on someone.

SIEGEL: And there would be, in an area of a big city like this, security cameras generally - well, in days prior to the race, we assume.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes. They call it sort of a wall of steel, and it's supposed to be all these different cameras. But when you have something like a marathon, it's even more so. They focus even more so on the race course.

SIEGEL: Dina Temple-Raston, thanks.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.

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