The Boston Marathon bombing garnered a tremendous amount of public and media attention last week, largely because of where the attack occurred and the subsequent intense hunt for the two suspects.
The hunt became even more intense on Friday, when virtually the entire city of Boston and its immediate neighbours were shut down as police narrowed the search for the one remaining suspect.
As the search narrowed, both Canadian and American TV channels were focusing on every step, even though there was little to report. At about 8 p.m. Boston time, police knew where the remaining suspect was and after a short time, he was arrested and taken to hospital, where he remains in serious condition.
The activities in Boston have again focused attention on acts of terrorism, and it appears this was such an act. The older suspect, who was killed early Friday morning during a shootout with police, was an ethnic Chechnyan who had recently spent six months there. According to a number of reports, he had become more of a fundamentalist Muslim in recent years.
His younger brother is the wounded suspect.
On Monday, we learned that two suspects were plotting to blow up a Via Rail train in Eastern Canada. The plan was linked to al-Qaeda.
The two separate events show that there are people in both Canada and the U.S. who believe that committing acts of terror is a good use of their time and resources.
The question is, how best do we as a society respond to this?
The answer is not simply to bring in more and more laws. Restricting citizens’ rights actually lets the terrorists win.
There are significant anti-terrorism laws in place, and they help police uncover many of these incidents before they take place. There is no question that they are necessary.
In Boston, one of the most important tools allowing police to narrow the field of suspects was surveillance video from a nearby department store. Such surveillance cameras should not be a problem for people going about their business in a law-abiding way. More such video cameras in public places may be necessary.
As citizens, we should be able to move about freely and not be subject to arrest for no reason. More surveillance videos may make that a reality, while inhibiting terrorists.