President Obama Mentions Boston Marathon Bombers in Terrorism Address

The president's first address since 2010 alluded to the radicalization of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Photo via White House

Photo via White House

In a rare, nationally televised address Sunday night, President Barack Obama made mention of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, while urging the country to resist precisely the divisiveness that the so-called Islamic State seeks to evoke.

In his speech, the president’s first in five years, Obama demanded Congress pass a ban on gun sales to terrorism suspects on the no-fly list (a measure the Republican-controlled Senate scuttled last week), and called for tightened visas and limits on assault weapons. He also stressed tolerance, decrying any reactionary discrimination against Muslim-Americans.

“Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co- workers, our sports heroes,” Obama said. “And, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.”

Early on in his 13-minute address, Obama noted the role the Internet plays in the spread of “a perverted interpretation of Islam” espoused by extremists, and listed 2013 Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as examples of this phenomenon.

“Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase,” Obama said. “As we’ve become better at preventing complex multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009, in Chattanooga earlier this year, and now in San Bernardino.”

“And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers,” Obama said.

In the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it was discovered that Tamerlan downloaded Complete Inspire, al-Qaeda’s Internet magazine, and copied it to his brother’s hard drive before leaving for Russia, where he allegedly trained with jihadist militants.

Last month, while speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Obama referred to the Marathon bombing as “two brothers and crock pot” to convey the difficulty of containing individual terrorist threats.