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Press Release

Conspiracy Theories Abound as Extremists and Bigots React to Boston Marathon Tragedy

New York, NY, April 18, 2013 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern over the alarming number of conspiracy theories circulating online in the aftermath of the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon, including spurious claims that Jews, Muslims or the government were secretly behind the attack.

Anti-Semites, racists, bigots and extremists have exploited the attack to demonize groups that they have long hated. They accuse Jews, Muslims and others of being responsible for the attacks -- even as law enforcement officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have warned against jumping to conclusions about who was behind the bombings, which killed three and injured at least 170 people as the April 15 marathon was entering its fourth hour.

“It is disturbing that once again extremists are taking advantage of a national tragedy to promote conspiracy theories rather than letting the hard and detailed work of the investigators take its course,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “America should come together in the aftermath of terrorism.  We should not allow the extremists and bigots to divide us.”

Just minutes after the attack, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists took to the Internet and blamed Jews and Israel for the bombing, according to information compiled by ADL’s Center on Extremism. Anti-Muslim activists and anti-government activists also piled on with outrageous conspiracy theories of their own.

Some examples of the extremist conspiracy theories now circulating online include:

  • An anti-Semitic Web site called “NoDisInfo” published an article claiming: “Zionist Jews Strike Again, Murdering Three in Boston.” The article alleged that Jews “control the security” and therefore will not be caught, but that if they were, “the diabolical schemes of world Jewry would be known to virtually the entire universe.” A day later, the site published a follow-up article claiming that pressure cookers, which were used to construct the bomb, are a “Zionist specialty.”
  • A range of anti-Muslim activists immediately pushed out statements on social media claiming that it was a “Jihadi” attack. “This has all the earmarks of typical jihad savagery,” one anti-Muslim activist wrote.
  • Anti-government extremist organizations and other hate groups reacted to the attack with conspiracy theories stating the attacks were “false flag” operations orchestrated by the U.S. government to curtail civil liberties and impose a military state on American citizens. 

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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