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Fortunately, most terrorists do stupid things that lead to their capture

April 23, 2013, at 9:59 AM
 
Photos of the Boston Marathon suspects during an FBI briefing on April 18.

Photos of the Boston Marathon suspects during an FBI briefing on April 18. Photo: SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters/Corbis

There are still many unanswered questions in the wake of the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, with his now-dead older brother Tamerlan, allegedly carried out the Boston Marathon bombings last week.

But none are so baffling in retrospect as how little the two brothers did to avoid being caught — from staying in Boston after the attacks to confessing to the hostage they took after a carjacking that they were responsible.

In fact, when the hostage escaped and left his phone behind, police were able to track the Tsarnaev's location via GPS. That led to a massive gun fight that ultimately killed Tamerlan.

Fortunately, as TIME notes, the Tsarnaev brothers are part of a long line of terrorists who do stupid things that ultimately lead to their arrests.

After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Mohammad Salameh tried to get back his $400 deposit for the rented truck that had carried the bomb and was captured soon after.

After blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, Timothy McVeigh was caught after being pulled over for driving a car without a license plate.

And after the 2010 attempted Times Square bombing, Faisal Shahzad thought he could avoid detection by filing off the vehicle identification number on the dashboard of the SUV, not realizing that automobiles have VINs in multiple places. He was arrested two days later.

The Tsarnaev brothers were apparently competent enough to kill at least four people and seriously hurt more than 100 more. Thankfully, their dumb moves leading to their capture may have spared the lives of many more.

 

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