Juliette Kayyem on the Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation

April 22, 2013


The investigation into last Monday's Boston Marathon bombing continues, as authorities now try to determine why the suspects committed the attack, whether they had any help, and whether or not they planned additional bombings. Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy, formerly served in the federal Department of Homeland Security and as a homeland security advisor to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. We asked for her perspectives on the investigation.

Q: What are your thoughts on the investigation and the seemingly quick resolution of the case once photographs of the two suspects were released to the public?

A: I think what we don't know right now is whether or not the release of the photographs led to the suspects, or if it was evidence taken from the car after the carjacking. But I do think that the crowd sourcing efforts which came into play almost immediately after the attack was an important shift in counter terrorism investigations, which in the past tended to be quite insular, and did engage the public in a way that was healthy. Members of the public were helping with public safety rather than cowering in fear.

Q: What are the questions you have in your mind about these two suspects and their possible motives for the bombing?

A: I'm of the opinion that the story will be told over time. Anyone interested in trying to determine the why right now should read Dave Cullen's book on Columbine. He tells the story of the two young men who carried out that attack and it's clear that it's not a simple story. It takes a while to figure out. As someone who has worked in the field of homeland security, the biggest question that I have is what happened during those six months that the older brother spent in Russia and what were the suspects plotting for after Monday's attack. It seems that they had plans for additional attacks.

Q: Are there any particular lessons or takeaways from this case for law enforcement and homeland security officials?

A: Absolutely, as is true in every case. Learning lessons and getting better each time is an important part of homeland security. Obviously a terrorist attack happened here and we need to find out if something could have happened to prevent it. But the decisions about releasing the photographs and putting the city on lockdown on Friday do need to be examined to determine whether things can work out better the next time. That doesn't mean this time those decisions were wrong; it just means we always want to learn and improve.

Juliette Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy

"As someone who has worked in the field of homeland security, the biggest question that I have is what happened during those six months that the older brother spent in Russia and what were the suspects plotting for after Monday's attack. It seems that they had plans for additional attacks."


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