What made the Boston bombing an act of terrorism?

Glenn Greenwald comments on the claim that the Boston Marathon bombing, allegedly carried out by the Tsarnaev brothers, was an act of terrorism.

It’s certainly possible that it will turn out that, if they are guilty, their prime motive was political or religious. But it’s also certainly possible that it wasn’t: that it was some combination of mental illness, societal alienation, or other form of internal instability and rage that is apolitical in nature. Until their motive is known, how can this possibly be called “terrorism”? Can acts of violence be deemed “terrorism” without knowing the motive? …

It’s hard not to suspect that the only thing distinguishing the Boston attack from Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Columbine (to say nothing of the US “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad and the mass killings in Fallujah) is that the accused Boston attackers are Muslim and the other perpetrators are not. As usual, what terrorism really means in American discourse – its operational meaning – is: violence by Muslims against Americans and their allies.

Guardian, 22 April 2013

Glenn Greenwald draws our attention to Ali Abunimah’s article “Obama’s rush to judgment: Was the Boston bombing really a ‘terrorist’ act?”, at The Electronic Intifada, 20 April 2013