Bombs Target Boston Marathon


Bombs Target Boston Marathon
Two bomb blasts, 12 seconds apart, rocked the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people, wounding more than 140, and leaving the sidewalks covered in blood.

Discussion Ideas:

  • No person or group has claimed responsibility for the Boston Marathon bombings. National and civic leaders, such as President Obama and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, have vowed to “find who did this.” Almost all news sources, however, are unofficially linking the bombings to terrorism. How do students define terrorism?
    • Terrorism is a violent way of influencing (or trying to influence) social policy by use of fear.
    • Terrorism can be domestic, meaning the terrorists attempt to influence social or government policy in their home country. Timothy McVeigh, who organized the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, was a domestic terrorist.
    • Terrorism can also attempt to influence the social or government policies of foreign nations. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, carried out by agents of the terrorist group al-Qaida, was an incident of foreign terrorism.
    • Terrorism can also be state-sponsored, where a nation finances the activities of terrorist group. The United States calls Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
  • Why do students think leaders are identifying the event as a terrorist attack?
  • Remind students not to make assumptions about the Boston Marathon bombings.
    • Authorities have not identified any suspects. Making assumptions can delay discovering the real perpetrator or perpetrators, and possibly ruin an innocent person’s livelihood. Richard Jewell was a police officer who discovered a pipe bomb at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite being responsible for saving the lives of dozens of people, Jewell was falsely accused of planting the bomb. Focus on Jewell delayed the identification of the real perpetrator, a domestic terrorist, and took a toll on Jewell’s career. Jewell’s story is a cautionary tale about leaping to conclusions.
    • Authorities have not identified whether the Boston Marathon bombings were the act of a single person or a group. A single domestic terrorist carried out the 1996 Olympic Park bombings in Atlanta. A few domestic terrorists planned the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. A global network was involved with the 9/11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. There is no indication how many people were involved in the Boston Marathon bombing.
    • Authorities are not even certain this was a terrorist attack. Although leaders say the bombings are being treated as a terrorist incident, in his address to the nation, President Obama carefully did not use the word “terror.”
  • “It’s our top priority—protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks,” says the FBI. How do students think they are being protected by the FBI and local law-enforcement organizations? Do they have questions about security or safety?

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