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Friday, April 19, 2013 - 12:33pm

Georgia Reacts: Boston Marathon Manhunt

Georgians and state officials have been watching developments in the Boston Marathon manhunt closely.

Governor Nathan Deal addressed security concerns while at a bill signing Friday morning.

“As a result of events like this, of course every state and every institution in the law enforcement community as well as Homeland Security […], they all take additional precautions, especially in events such as big events where crowds are present,” said Deal. “But, let’s face it, the reality is if we are going to live in a free society, which is what America is about, we will never be able to totally prevent these kinds of unexpected situations. I think the remarkable story that is coming out of this is how well law enforcement reacted to be able to identify and of course hopefully, ultimately capture both of the perpetrators. To me as a citizen, that gives me great comfort in the experience and qualifications of our law enforcement and that, in and of itself, serves as a deterrent to future such activity.”

Brittany McAlpin, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security said Friday's manhunt and lockdown in Boston should remind people in Georgia to be prepared for anything.

“Whether he’s coming from Massachusetts or whether somebody in Georgia is getting ready to take out a terrorist attack, we want to encourage people to be ready at all times,” she explained. “You need to always be alert and mindful of things that you could be doing prior to a particular terrorist attack or a particular weather incident.”
McAlpin stressed that there is no specific threat against Georgia during this time, though GEMA is in direct contact with federal authorities to monitor the situation. She advocated that Georgians prepare a readiness kit should they ever need to evacuate or stay inside their homes.

Everyday Georgians

Many Americans have been on edge since Monday’s bombings. Robert Horntvedt of Savannah, however, said these types of incidents are becoming too common.

"You hate to be jaded about such things. You know that it's a real tragedy for the people involved and for the city of Boston,” explained Horntvedt. “But public events are going to be targeted and it just seems to be part of the norm."

Fellow Savannah resident, Hollis Sanders, believes Americans are becoming too cynical about tragedy.

"There are a lot of people who are just kind of crossing their arms and saying, 'This happens.' And I think that's a terrible place to be,” said Sanders.

Expert Analysis

Investigators say the two suspects in the bombings are American immigrants from Chechnya, a small republic near Russia. As of Friday evening, law enforcement officials had not released information about what may have prompted the bombings, but Matthew Payne, a professor in the Emory history department said Chechnya has a long history of violence.

“Chechnya in its relations with the Russian world is a very important component of what’s happening in the Islamic world,” explained Payne. “Americans don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about Chechnya because it’s not really in our backyard. It’s more in the backyard of the Russians. However, it has been a place of some very nasty wars, some ongoing terrorism that has especially affected Russia.”

Payne explained that because of that history, many native Chechens, like the suspects, have moved to other countries.

The nature of the attack lead Payne to believe that the suspects are not connected to Chechen terror cells and instead acted as “lone wolves.”

“These are freelancers,” said Payne. “The real question is not, could I believe that the attack was by Chechen terrorists? That I could believe […]. What’s more troubling is what radicalized two brothers who by all accounts seemed to have no beef with America?”

Payne said the attack seemed more in line with the Fort Hood, Texas shootings than the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Jeanne Bonner, Orlando Montoya

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