Boston Bombers Didn't Use Cellphones Detonators -- but Could Have

The bombs were set off with a remote control.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhr Tsarnaev used a remote control of some sort to detonate their two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon last Monday. The type of detonator the two men used remains unclear, but the Justice Department complaint outlining the charges against Dzhokhar makes very clear that he may have been "manipulating the phone," and that he kept his cellphone to his ear during the first explosion. (Police instructed officers and the press to turn off their phones during the shootout that killed Tamerlan late Thursday night.)

We see cellphone detonators all the time in the movies and on television, which sometimes seem to stretch the limits of even fictional terrorist technology. (Homeland, most recently.) But could two brothers living in Massachusetts have learned to make one — and make it work?

We're not going to get into the complexities of Inspire, the English-language online magazine said to be part of the brothers Tsarnaev's guide to killing four people and injuring scores more — nobody needs more information on how to build bombs. But it seems a little too easy, a little too unsettling, that something carried around by so many nonviolent people could be so easily converted into something so sinister.

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