Obama: Don’t form opinions on Boston attacks until government decides

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Americans should not decide their opinions about the Boston terror attacks until the government decides its own opinion, President Barack Obama told the nation late Friday night.

“There’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions,” Obama warned during his 10:05 p.m. EST speech from the White House.

“But when a tragedy like this happens … it’s important that we do this right,” he claimed.

“That’s why we have investigations … That’s why we have courts.  And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people,” Obama insisted.

According to video, witnesses and one of the bomber’s own statements, the bombs were placed by two immigrant Muslims with ethnic roots in war-torn Chechnya.

Chechens are an ethnic group whose homeland is in the Caucasus Mountains, south of Russia. The area was conquered by Russia armies in the early 1800s. Most Chechens are Muslims and want their own independent country.

The region’s history of brutal ethnic warfare was put into overdrive when the Soviet empire lost control of the region after 1989. For example, in 1994 and 1995, the capital city of Chechnya was largely leveled in a Stalingrad-like battle between Chechen rebels and the Russian army.

Since then, the area has been subject to numerous religious and ethnic wars, all of which have been extensively displayed on the Internet and jihadi websites, described in news accounts and debated by Americans.

The U.S. media and the growing array of social media sites are now aiding public debate about why the two Muslim men came to the United States, and why they decided to position their deadly bombs at the Boston marathon and then shoot at police.

Three Americans were killed by the bombs. Numerous Americans lost limbs to shrapnel from the homemade weapons.

The Boston drama dominated the national debate in the same week that Obama’s political allies in Congress presented a far-reaching bill to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.

The pending law would provide an amnesty for at least 11 million people, quick entry to 4.7 million foreigners now waiting for green cards, and also increase the annual influx of immigrants and company workers.

The first hearing of the bill, however, was swept off the TV screen by the Boston drama, and was linked by opponents to the post-1980s influx of Muslims, some of whom have launched failed or destructive attacks against Americans.

Obama, however, warned the public against being critical of immigration.

“One of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world — people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe,” he declared.

The number of Muslims attackers is a tiny percentage of all Muslims in the country.

But Obama has tried to downplay the evidence that Muslims are more likely to launch terror strikes than are other immigrants or Americans. For example, his deputies have classified the attack in November 2009 by a U.S. Army Muslim in Fort Hood as a crime, not a jihad attack, despite Major Nidal Hasan’s screams of “Allahu Akbar!” as he opened fire on his fellow soldiers.

The attack killed 13 Americans soldiers and civilians, and wounded 30 more. Because it is deemed an ordinary crime, the wounded soldiers do not get the Purple Heart medals normally awarded to soldiers wounded in combat.

Obama has also sought to strengthen ties between the Democratic party and the relatively small number of Muslims in the United States.

Although they comprise only about 2 percent of the population, Muslim voters are concentrated in a few areas, including Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. That concentration boosted their electoral clout in 2008 and 2012.

The “American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong,” Obama expressed Friday night.

“So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let’s make sure that we sustain that spirit,” he insisted.

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