Online Terrorist Propaganda & The Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary

  • April 4, 2014


Com­mem­o­ra­tive graphic of Boston bomber Tamer­lan Tsar­naev in Inspire magazine

In the year since the Boston Marathon bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 260 injuries, terrorists groups that justify and sanction violence have intensified their efforts to reach, recruit and motivate homegrown extremists by adapting their messages to new technology.

Terrorist groups and their supporters are not only using social media and other Internet platforms to spread their messages more quickly and effectively than ever before, but also to recruit adherents who live in the communities they seek to target.

A new ADL report, Homegrown Islamic Extremism in 2013: The Perils of Online Recruitment & Self-Radicalization, explores the impact sophisticated terrorist propaganda has had on a new generation of homegrown extremists. Face-to-face interaction with terrorist operatives, the report concludes, is no longer a requirement for radicalization.

Inspire magazine, for example, which is designed to engage and recruit sympathizers in the U.S., has become a staple of domestic terrorism, providing ideological justifications encouraging attacks on U.S. soil as well as various suggested methods of attack. Inspire contained the very bomb-making instructions that were used by the alleged Boston Bombers to construct their bombs in an article called “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

The newest issue of Inspire, released last month, pro­vides detailed instruc­tions on how to build car bombs and includes sug­ges­ted loca­tions for where to plant them in various U.S. cities. The author notes, “The Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment was unable to pro­tect its cit­i­zens from pres­sure cooker bombs in back­packs, I won­der if they are ready to stop car bombs!”

The ADL report also explores the other American citizens and permanent residents implicated in the U.S. on terror-related charges in 2013 and over the past five years, noting how many were directly influenced by terrorist propaganda easily accessible online.