religiondispatches: Now that the Boston bombers have been identified—one killed and the other brother captured—the next question is why? Why did they do it, and did religion play a role?
As soon as it became clear that the Tsarnaev brothers were Muslim and that Tamerlan, the older of the two, had become pious in recent years, commentators began to point to religion as the culprit. Once again, they implied, an act of violence has occurred with the specter of radical Islam hovering in the background. Or so it may initially have appeared.
But I suspect the truth is more complicated than that.
The Boston case appears to be similar to many of the other lone wolf terrorist attacks in the United States in recent years. Before Boston, there was the December 2012 Newtown massacre by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School; the July 2012 movie theater shootings by James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado; the August 2012 attack on the Milwaukee Sikh Gurdwara by Wade Michael Page; the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt by Faisal Shahzad; and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic park bombing by Eric Robert Rudolph, to name a few.