If confirmed as an act of terrorism, the two explosions that struck the Boston Marathon’s finish line on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens more, would represent the first such attack to strike the city in recent history.
Authorities initially declined to label the incident an act of terrorism; when asked by a reporter immediately after the explosions whether he would classify the incident as a terrorist attack, Boston Police Chief Ed Davis said, "You can reach your own conclusions." But CNN is now reporting that federal officials have classified the bombings as a terrorist attack and have moved on to investigating whether its origins were foreign or domestic.
According to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, 16 acts of terrorism — two of which resulted in injures, another two of which resulted in fatalities — have occurred in Boston since 1970, and no acts of terrorism have occurred in the city since 1995.
According to the University of Maryland, the most recent lethal terrorist attack in Boston was the 1995 killing of Paul R. McLaughlin, a gangland prosecutor who was shot to death execution-style in his car. The only other Boston terror attack to have resulted in a fatality was the 1992 killing of Iwao Matsuda, the president of Chukyo University, who was shot to death in his hotel room while visiting the city to sign an exchange agreement with the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Over the course of its history, Boston has witnessed several bombings carried out by a variety of leftist groups, black nationalists, and abortion activists. But only one such bombing — carried out by the obscure Marxist group United Freedom Front — resulted in serious casualties. In that attack, on April 22, 1976, 22 people were injured — including a man who lost a leg — in a bombing that targeted the Suffolk County Courthouse.
In more recent years, Boston has had an ignominious connection with the major terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil. Two of the hijacked airliners in the Sept. 11 attacks — American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 — originated at Boston’s Logan Airport, and the attacks that day claimed the lives of 206 people from Massachusetts or with strong ties to it. Still, in the decade that followed, Boston managed to avoid a major terrorist attack. Until, it seems, today.