WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Tuesday the deadly Boston Marathon bombings were an act of terrorism but investigators do not know if they were carried out by an international or domestic organization, or perhaps by a “malevolent individual.”
In his second public statement in less than 24 hours since the explosions, the president said, “Clearly we are at the beginning of our investigation.” He urged anyone with information relating to the events to contact authorities.
Obama said investigators “don’t have a sense of motivation yet” as they begin to evaluate the attack in which three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and more than 170 were wounded.
Despite the loss of life and limb, Obama declared, “The American people refuse to be terrorized.”
As he had on Monday, he said those responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice.
The president had avoided labeling the incident a terrorist attack when he stood at the same White House lectern shortly after the explosions, but lawmakers quickly said that’s what it was. White House officials had said the FBI was investigating the attack as a terror incident.
Appearing before reporters on Tuesday, Obama said the events in Boston were a “heinous cowardly act, and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to attack innocent civilians it is” a terrorist act, he said. Still, he cautioned that it was not known who or what organizations might have carried it out.
The president praised those who had come to the aid of the injured.
“If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil, that’s it: selflessly, compassionately, unafraid,” he said.
Obama stepped to the microphone after receiving a briefing at the White House from Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other top aides.
The bombs exploded on Monday afternoon near the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon, an annual 26 mile race through the neighborhoods of the city.
Remarks by President Barack Obama on the Boston Marathon explosion, as provided by the White House:
Good morning, everybody. I’ve just been briefed by my national security team, including FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, on the attacks in Boston. We continue to mobilize and deploy all appropriate law enforcement resources to protect our citizens, and to investigate and to respond to this attack.
Obviously our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans, and took the lives of others, including a 8-year-old boy.
This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror. What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual. That’s what we don’t yet know. And clearly, we’re at the beginning of our investigation.
It will take time to follow every lead and determine what happened. But we will find out. We will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice.
We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized. Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love: exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives. The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.” The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful. And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.
So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.
In the coming days, we will pursue every effort to get to the bottom of what happened. And we will continue to remain vigilant. I’ve directed my administration to take appropriate security measures to protect the American people. And this is a good time for all of us to remember that we all have a part to play in alerting authorities — if you see something suspicious, speak up.
I have extraordinary confidence in the men and women of the FBI, the Boston Police Department, and the other agencies that responded so heroically and effectively in the aftermath of yesterday’s events. I’m very grateful for the leadership of Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino. And I know that even as we protect our people and aggressively pursue this investigation, the people of Boston will continue to respond in the same proud and heroic way that they have thus far — and their fellow Americans will be right there with them.
Thank you very much. And you can expect further briefings from our law enforcement officials as the day goes on. When we have more details, they will be disclosed. What I’ve indicated to you is what we know now. We know it was bombs that were set off. We know that obviously they did some severe damage. We do not know who did them. We do not know whether this was an act of an organization or an individual or individuals. We don’t have a sense of motive yet. So everything else at this point is speculation. But as we receive more information, as the FBI has more information, as our out counterterrorism teams have more information, we will make sure to keep you and the American people posted.
Thank you very much, everybody.