Putting the picture together
"My piece on what [a] blurry photo of suspected bomber tells us about ISIS tradecraft. Hint: No beard/gloves/suitcase," tweets NYT's Rukmini Callimachi, before going on to darkly joke, "Speculation that single glove may be to hide detonation device. Or as @DougSchorzman opines, bombers might just be Michael Jackson fans." It's hard not to notice that when tragedy strikes, it often stirs a sort of morbid humor in the journalists who must cover all of its worst facets -- a sort of self-defense for sanity's sake, let's call it -- and in this case, the single-glove detail about the Belgium bombers inspired the exact same joke in multiple members of the media: "Next time you see a chap with one glove on, don't assume he's showing affection for Michael Jackson," similarly quips Carl Skadian. So apparently sometimes a grainy photo reveals things about ourselves, too.
But going back to the bomber trio. Some public officials have pointed to mosque attendance or conservative Islamic appearances like hijabs or long beards as hints of radicalization, but as with the Paris attackers, none of this seems to be true of the three main suspects photographed in Belgium. Two of them -- brothers Brahim and Khalid Bakraoui -- reportedly died in the process of carrying out the plan, but a third man in lighter clothes allegedly is still at large: so here's how authorities plan to catch the man in white. "Manhunt underway ... #Brussels attack investigation: What's next for authorities?" CNN's Arwa Damon bills it. In the meantime, the court date for the recently captured Paris suspect Abdeslam has been postponed for at least a day, due to heightened security concerns. In a fairly big letdown, there was briefly a moment where it looked as if the ISIS bomb-maker linked to the attacks could have been apprehended, but while a major Belgian outret reported Belgian national Najim Laachraoui had been taken into custody, it now appears that wasn't true -- and there may even be a fourth unidentified attacker. So while another massive search is conducted, we look for all the familiar signs of solidarity: the Eiffel tower lit up in the colors of the Belgian national flag, the White House's flag flying at half-mast, or Facebook users adding a filter to their profile photos. What once was heart-warming starts to feel increasingly, heart-breakingly routine, as do the usual reminders of all the other recent violent tragedies with frequently higher casualties that somehow flew under our radar.
Elsewhere, it's business as usual for politics. Former GOP candidate Jeb Bush embraces Sen. Ted Cruz in a Facebook post endorsement. House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a thoughtful address on the state of American politics. An Israeli firm now appears to be helping the FBI with the work that Apple doesn't want: opening that encrypted iPhone. And top experts puzzle over the names of Trump's newly unveiled foreign policy advisers. "Dude, half of them are whereabouts unknown. No joke," points out Noah Rothman at Commentary Magazine.