Forty-eight hours after Monday’s horrific terrorist attack targeting the Boston Marathon, which left 3 people dead and close to 200 injured, extremist and anti-government conspiracy theories about who was responsible are spreading across the Internet.
While political leaders, the mainstream media, and the vast majority of Americans are withholding judgment and supporting law enforcement authorities engaged in a very difficult investigation, the lack of information currently available to the public about possible perpetrators has not kept extremists and anti-government activists from jumping to conclusions. Conspiracy theorists spanning the ideological spectrum – from anti-Muslim bigots to white supremacists – have accused different groups and individuals of perpetrating the bombing.
In the past two days, some have blamed Jews, Zionists, and/or Israelis and some have accused Muslims or Islam in general. At the same time, anti-government extremists have accused the government of “staging” the attack.
Blaming Jews, Zionists, and/or Israelis
- An anti-Semitic conspiracy theory website called “NoDisInfo,” which previously claimed that Jews were responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre, published an article titled “Zionist Jews Strike Again, Murdering Three in Boston.” The article was posted less than 12 hours after the bombing took place and claimed that “Zionist operatives have struck at the very heart of America, bombing the Boston marathon.” The article also conspiratorially alleged that the attackers won’t be discovered because they “control the security” but if they were, “the diabolical schemes of world Jewry would be known to virtually the entire universe.” A follow-up article published yesterday, titled “Zionist Madmen Attack Boston with Pressure-Cooker Bombs,” claimed that “filthy Zionist brutes” were obviously responsible because pressure-cooker bombs are a “Zionist specialty” and because “the propaganda surrounding these devices arises strictly from such Jews.”
- Mark Glenn, a conspiracy theorist who claims Jews control various political and financial institutions in the U.S., wrote several comments on his blog, The Ugly Truth, claiming that the attack was perpetrated by Israel. One comment focused on the bombing’s concurrence with Israel’s Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) to implicate Israelis because “Israel is BIG on symbolism when carrying out attacks of this type.” In a radio broadcast on April 16, Glenn posited that the bombing could have been "Israel's way of not only rubbing manure in Barack Obama's face" but also a way to demonstrate what Israel is capable of doing to the United States. He acknowledged that it's too early to implicate Israel with certainty but added, "You in the Jewish community and in the pro-Israel community...you have a criminal record...It is very possible that this is an Israeli false flag event, but we'll have to wait and see."
- Several users on the white supremacist forum Stormfront raised theories about the attacks, including one user who commented, “Frankly, there are only two parties who would gain from setting off bombs at a marathon, Muslims, and Talmudic Zionist Jews seeking to turn the U.S. into another Soviet Union. I can feel it, they are going to try to blame white ‘supremacists’ and gun-owners for this. This was clearly a bomb attack, one well planned at that.”
- Mazin Qumsiyeh, an extreme anti-Israel activist who now lives in the West Bank, posted an article on his blog claiming that the “Zionist spin” in the mainstream media is trying to point the finger at Muslims but that he hopes the FBI is “smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin.” Qumsiyeh also alleged that “there is no mention of past false flag operations by the Israeli Mossad” and “no mention of billions made by investors with inside knowledge; no mainstream media tried to investigate the short selling and the US stock market collapse that happened hours BEFORE the bombings (who profited?).”
- Quran-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones released a statement through his organization “Stand Up America” that read, “Is it an Islamic attack? It looks like it. The bombing came on Patriots Day. It has all of the earmarkings (sic) of an Islamic attack but will there again be a great coverup by the Great Satan Obama? His Administration, the people he has surrounded himself with, are all some type of closet Muslims, heavily influenced by Islam because of their background.”
- Shortly after news of the bombings broke, Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslim activist and founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), published a post on her blog provocatively titled, “Jihadi Arrested in Horrific Boston Marathon Bombing.” (Geller based her post on a New York Post article alleging the involvement of a 20-year-old Saudi student, a claim that the FBI and Boston police have since dismissed.) She also tweeted, “Jihadi Arrested in Horrific Boston Marathon Bombing: Jihad in America. 12 dead, 50 injured. My deepest condolences.”
Geller continued to link the bombing to Islamic terrorism in various other posts, saying “This has all the earmarks of typical jihad savagery” and noting that the bombs were similar to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used in Iraq and Afghanistan and that “this type of device was also used by the Times Square bomber Faisal Shazad…” [The Pakistani Taliban, which allegedly trained Faisal Shahzad and claimed responsibility for the failed Times Square attack, has denied involvement in the Boston bombing.]
Dozens of posts on social media platforms have accused Muslims of being responsible for the attacks. A search on Twitter revealed posts claiming that liberal power in government will lead to a “Muslim bomb a minute,” that the attack was perpetrated by “homegrown Muslims” and that it must have been a Muslim plot because “every documented use of pressure cooker bombs are by Muslim terrorists.”
Blaming the Government
Adherents of the anti-government extremist “patriot” movement have treated the Boston attacks in the same way that they treat virtually every terrorism-related attack or arrest: as a “false flag” operation. “False flag” operations are incidents staged by a government but blamed on some other government or entity as a pretext to curtail civil liberties or justify military action.
- Soon after the attacks, Alex Jones, a radio talk show host and most well-known conspiracy theorist of the “patriot” movement, issued a series of tweets that claimed the Marathon bombings were a false flag attack. “This thing stinks to high heaven,” he claimed.
- One conspiracy theorist even tried to raise the false flag notion at a press conference on the afternoon of the bombing, asking a Boston Police Department official whether the incident was “another false flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?” One media source identified the questioner as Dan Bidondi, a host on InfoWars, one of the Web sites associated with Alex Jones.
- Similar notions have been propagated on militia sites. “Personally,” claimed a person identifying himself as Cody Brewer on the Well Regulated American Militias Web site, “I believe this was a way for FEMA, DHS, and local law enforcement to test their response level at taking control of a City after an event.”
- Brandon Turbeville, a conspiracy theorist and writer on the Activist Post Web site, claimed that “while reports continue to emerge from the scene, a number of facts point toward the typical setup used to devise, control, and execute such an attack as took place around the 9/11, 7/7, and OKC bombings as well as the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings.”
In addition to the conspiracy theories about who bears responsibility for Monday’s bombing, several extremist organizations have expressed satisfaction with the attack. On its Twitter page, the Somali-based Al-Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab, noted that the attacks are “just a tiny fraction of what US soldiers inflict upon millions of innocent Muslims across the globe on a daily basis.” The group also seemed to revel in the nature of the attack: “Amputations mean that some will never be able to run another marathon again.”
For its part, the virulently homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, also tried to get in on the media frenzy surrounding the attack, announcing that it would picket the victims’ funerals and that the attack was a result of God’s anger about gay rights in America.