Current and Emerging Threats of Homegrown Terrorism: The Case of the Boston Bombings

Rohan Gunaratna, Cleo Haynal


On April 15, 2013, two coordinated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) exploded near the finish line of the famous Boston Marathon. The fatalities were low but the symbolism was high: more than a decade after 9/11, the United States is still not safe from militant jihadist terrorist attacks. The bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had planned on killing and dying in the name of the global jihad after their second set of attacks on New York’s Time Square. They were stopped before getting to New York where the fatalities could have been much greater. The two brothers were self-radicalised homegrown terrorists. At this moment of writing, existing evidence points to the fact that, while inspired by militant jihadism and in loose contact with terrorists in Dagestan, they operated alone. This is an analysis of the radicalisation process that led those two young men to adopt violent jihad, and the failures of U.S. counterterrorism efforts that enabled them to kill three people and injuring some 250 others. This analysis shows that much still needs to be done in international inter-agency collaboration and in community engagement to prevent further attacks of this sort from happening on U.S. soil.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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