BOISE, Idaho -- There are still plenty of questions following the attacks in Boston. Police believe brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are responsible, but did they work alone? And, what motivated the attacks? The biggest question for people in Idaho and Oregon, 'Could it happen here?' The short answer is, yes.
Mike Baker is a former CIA covert operations officer, and currently runs a worldwide business intelligence company, Diligence L.L.C.
There's so much that needs to be unwound here, said Baker, referring to the daunting investigation into the bombings.
Like many, he's waiting for answers on exactly what provoked the bombings in Boston. They were allegedly carried out by the Tsarnaev brothers, who were living in the U.S., but whose family came from Chechnya.
Chechnya's been waging a battle for years against Russia, said Baker. They want to create a separate Islamic state, basically. It's been a brutal campaign, a brutal war with Russia.
He says, if the brothers were radicalized, that it could have something to do with an Islamic extremist group. He says, for years, those groups have worked to recruit disaffected youth in Europe, so they would have people already in place in the target country. The idea that it can't happen here, is puzzling to me. I don't know we think we would be any different... The line about what a terrorist looks like, is getting very blurry. And, it's disconcerting to us. Because we want to think that terrorist is always going to look like that bearded gentlemen from the Middle East. And, that may not be the case any more.
What about the attacks themselves? Clearly, they can happen in big U.S. cities. But, could they happen in Idaho?
No place is immune, said Baker. Some places are more of a target-rich environment than others, but no place is immune from it.
Baker doesn't say that to alarm anyone, merely to increase awareness. And he believes public awareness is a great defense against terrorism, since police can't be everywhere. It's a force multiplier for law enforcement to try to help identify an issue. If you see a bag that's unattended, say something! Don't just walk by and say, 'Eh, there's a bag that's unattended.' Make a comment!
And in that sense, Baker says, all of us can help defend against terrorism, right here in our own backyard. We need to make the public more aware. You're not always going to walk around in a heightened state of alert, but we need to get them to the point where they're willing participants. Because, the game, it changed, prior to, and certainly after 9/11. And, it continues to change. The face of terrorism, it always adapts, and we need to understand that.
Contacting authorities about something that may be suspicious is a tactic local police departments have pushed for awhile, to not just fight terrorism, but to fight everyday crime. They often say, 'Just be good neighbors.'