The banality of backpack bombs

The weirdnesses of modern life, you know? Texting. Cupcakes. Wheely bags. Granite counter tops.

One such weirdness is the recurrence of photographs of young men on their way to kill and maim a lot of random people.

There are some of Timothy McVeigh, I think – renting the truck was it? Getting gas? Or maybe there aren’t.

But there certainly are of some of the 9/11 young men. There are of the July 2005 London bombers. And now there are of the Tsarnaev brothers.

Walking along the street, dapper and casual, with their pressure cookers packed full of shrapnel in the backpacks they carry.

So we can see them. We can see how people look in the process of killing some random people and maiming a lot more. They don’t look like anything. They look normal. They fit right in. They’re as banal as the rest of us.


  1. rq says

    This is why serial killers are so scary, too. In interviews, they’re so ordinary. So casual.
    I think this is what makes them so frightening – their ability – no, their lack of ability to see that what they are doing is anything especially noteworthy. Their utter lack of empathy. *shudder*

  2. says

    Yes. It’s horribly common.

    Fortunately the opposite is much more common; the fury of Ruslan Tsarni is much more common; but the empathy-less thrillseekers do exist.

  3. miraxpath says

    The younger man was said to be kind-hearted and is a medical student apparently. He may not be taken alive and we may never know what turned him to this terrible path of destruction. There is an article in Cif about the chechen’s long, long history of ‘resistance’ and warfare, much like the afghans. There is too much romantic waffling over the warrior identity of these people. Where has all that fighting left their societies?

  4. nurseingrid says

    I remember being hypnotized by the security camera footage of Mohammed Atta going through the scanner. He is so calm he looks bored. Still makes me shudder.

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