Expert: Bomb construction could provide key clues in Marathon blasts case

How the bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon were made will likely act like a signature, telling authorities several things about the person or group behind the attacks, said Alexia Ash, head of forecasting in North America for Exclusive Analysis Ltd., an IHS affiliate that analyzes relevant political and violent risks around the world.

Already, she said, the emerging details reveal several things.

Based on the timing and location of the blasts, for instance, Ash said, it appears the goal was to inflict mass casualties that would be caught on television and made “spectacular.” While it’s still unknown who is behind the attack, the size of the incident and the fact that no one has claimed responsibility for it yet likely means that it’s the work of a small group or individual – potentially a homegrown extremist, or someone inspired by the work of a larger terrorist group.

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“What we can say is that the person who made this type of weapon had some type of training or at least some type of practice. It wasn’t a Molotov cocktail, but it wasn’t a truck bomb. It was between the two,” Ash said. “It’s low capability, but something that would require training or practice to produce.”

“The goal was casualties and a spectacular attack,” she added, “and everything else we’re going to find out from the weapon.”