BREAKING: Boston Marathon bombing is “terrorist attack,” federal officials say

Was the first Boston Marathon bomb in a street side mailbox? Check out the images from the Boston Globe video and from Google Maps:

The yellow circle is the origin of the explosion.

The yellow circle is the origin of the explosion.

The Post Office box is circled in yellow.

The Post Office mail box is circled in yellow.

I don’t think it’s the mailboxes.  You can see the same streetlight in the video and Google maps – the explosion seems to be closer to the building, either against the building or just inside.

Here’s a different angle of that storefront for the first bombing:


For the second second bombing, there’s no mailbox in the spot most seem to be pinpointing the as the location – but there is a garbage can:


Though looking at the video of the second bombing, it looks like the explosion happened a little bit father – after the street light in front of the Starbucks. There you see a green storage mailbox (I think they’re the kind the postal service uses, but the public doesn’t have access too). There are also a number of outdoor cafes – I’ve circled the green mailbox (there’s a green mailbox in front of the first bombing site too):



2 dead, 132 injured.

Obama speaks about Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Didn’t really say much. Chris thinks it’s because this looks like it might be domestic, and the White House is being very careful about it. Interestingly, the President did not call this a terrorist attack, yet – clearly they’re still trying to figure out what’s going on.

President Obama speaks to the nation at 6:10pm ET about the Boston Marathon attack.

President Obama speaks to the nation at 6:10pm ET about the Boston Marathon attack.


CNN terror expert says the device, reportedly containing C4 plastic explosives, was rather “amateur.” Ruh roh, that sounds like something domestic. Though remains to be seen. Federal authorities now saying this was a terrorist attack. Not sure what that actually means – whether that means certain protocols kick in to place, etc. Also curious what the federal definition is of a terrorist attack.

  Odd that we were all so reticent to call this “terrorism” even after it was confirmed they were bombs:





I’m with Garrett on this one – multiple explosions at multiple sites (if in fact there were multiple sites) – is suspicious:


President Barack Obama talks on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller to receive an update on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the Oval Office, April 15, 2013. Seated with the President are Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)




NPR’s coverage.




Photos from the scene – one is graphic, and fortunately is protected behind a wall, it’s seriously graphic, not sure I’m glad I clicked.


CNN: 2 dead, 46 injured so far. Keep in mind that today is both Patriots’ Day in Maine and Massachsetts, and it’s also Tax Day. Wonder if the government is going to delay tax filings for Boston – might be nice.  Boston is also the site of the original Tea Party.



“We’re not being definitive about that right now, but you can reach your own conclusions about what happened” – Boston Police Commissioner responding to whether this was terrorism.


Boston police commissioner press conference: 2:50pm ET simultaneous explosions. 50 to 100 yards apart. Each had multiple casualties.  There has been a third explosion at the JFK library. So two simultaneous explosions at Boylston St. and third at JFK Library. Wait, cops say there was a controlled explosion at Boylston St, but won’t say if it was a bomb – might have been a suspicious device that they exploded, not clear. New video of the first explosion:


Another video, moments after the first explosion – it’s the sounds that are the worst part of the video: “Somebody help me!”

CNN: Fire dept has found 3rd explosive device. Likely video of second explosion: The reason I think this video is real, check out the google street map view of this walgreen’s, a block from Boston’s Copley Square, so it’s in the right area: second-epxlosion


Rumor of explosion at JFK library.

CNN just read a statement from VP Biden calling this “a bombing.” I seriously hope that statement was vetted as no one else is calling this a bombing yet. And the Boston Marathon just tweeted, calling it “two bombs”:

Thanks to GOP, ATF doesn’t even had a director right now:

Secret Service is cordoning off the White House:

Stunning photo right after bomb goes off.

CNN reports the Boston Police say 2 are dead and 22 wounded so far.

More live footage from Boston: CNN’s Tapper said the explosion happened around 3pm ET. CBS: No credible claims yet for responsibility for the blast. CNN: A Boston police source confirms “multiple explosions.” CNN reports that anti-terrorism forces are being deployed around monuments in NYC. BREAKING: Multiple explosions go off at Boston Marathon. Multiple casualties. This is happening right now.  I’ll be updating this page regularly as the news comes in. Here’s video of the explosion near the finish line:

As the Boston Marathon explosions go off, a runner falls. Image via CNN.

As the Boston Marathon explosions go off, a runner falls. Image via CNN.

CNN is talking possible terrorism, but nobody knows. It could be simply an accident.

Having said that, Al Qaeda-style terrorism usually involves multiple attacks in multiple locations. Which is why September 11 was about Boston, NYC and DC. In they past they’ve attacked multiple embassies. So even though it’s not known what happened, clearly there’s good reason for heightened security everywhere.

I’m looking at this new video, and you can tell there are at least two explosions, a few seconds apart. Again, this might not be terrorism – but terrorist attacks often will include multiple explosions at the same attack point in order to corral victims towards the second explosion and create more damage, more mayhem.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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58 Responses to “BREAKING: Boston Marathon bombing is “terrorist attack,” federal officials say”

  1. Butch1 says:

    The media is so busy trying to define what to name it instead of just reporting the facts of what is happening as usual.

    In a effort to try and be the first one out of the news room, CNN was the first to misfire with disinformation yesterday. They had the culprit already arrested. Then they weren’t very sure about that and then they finally got it right with there were no arrests made. It was interesting watching Wolff Blitser studdering and stalling all throughout his changing broadcast on this one. They made him out to be a fool and I would imagine he wanted to wring someone’s neck once he was off camera.

  2. Go Vikes says:

    In the third picture, near the red car, a guy with a black backpack???????

  3. BeccaM says:

    I suspect in coming days, much of what we’ve heard and will hear is going to be subject to corrections.

  4. BeccaM says:

    Disqus has been really squirrelly the last couple of days.

  5. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I wondered that too. When a bomb goes off in a public place it’s a terrorist attack (or, I don’t know, a botched mob hit, but does that distinction matter?) I think they want to wait until they know for certain it wasn’t a gas main leak or something before panicking everyone with the news that it was an intentional attack on random civilians.

  6. SkippyFlipjack says:

    From the Boston Globe, regarding the “suspect in custody”: “The person questioned in the hospital was a Saudi national, who was report­edly tackled and held by a ­bystander after he was seen running from near the scene of the explosion, said a law enforce­ment source who spoke with someone involved in the FBI’s investigation. The Saudi man, believed to be a university student in Boston, is cooperating with the FBI and told agents that he was not involved in the explosions, and that he ran only because he was frightened. Investigators did not characterize the man as a suspect. No one had been arrested or charged as of late Monday night.”

  7. MyrddinWilt says:

    Yes, the ‘shock and awe’ attack was in itself a war crime.

  8. MyrddinWilt says:

    It would hardly be surprising if they found some suspicious packages in those areas and set them off. That would likely lead to reports of more bombs being found.

  9. Guest says:

    Wipe out all of Oklahoma City. It was, after all, a fertilizer bomb.

  10. SkippyFlipjack says:

    McVeigh was technically amateurish? I wonder what a professional bomb could do..

  11. SkippyFlipjack says:

    “On CNN, Jake Tapper notes that Waco, OKC attack, and today’s explosions took place on Patriot’s Day. Then Jane Harman talks about al-Qaeda.” What does Waco have to do with the other two? Patriot’s Day (Apr 19) marked the end of the whole thing and was instigated by the Feds.

  12. eahopp says:

    My apologies for the double posting here.

  13. eahopp says:

    Maybe someone planted an explosive tax return?

  14. eahopp says:

    Maybe someone planted an explosive tax return?

  15. BeccaM says:

    One small piece of favorable news: The old fellow visible in the oft-repeated video who staggers and falls is Bill Iffrig, a 78 year old runner who’d run a few Boston Marathons before, suffered only scrapes and bruises. According to his report to ESPN, the blast staggered him, essentially turned his legs to rubber, and he tripped and fell. The reason he didn’t get up is because he says he was dazed — and I’m guessing from his description of what happened, he may have lost consciousness for a few seconds.

  16. so glad the ones in Cambridge didn’t go off…

  17. also that it didn’t detonate earlier when there were a lot more people at the finish line.

  18. Guest says:

    Why do I have the nagging suspicion that this is going to turn out to be the crazed act of a right-wing loner malcontent a la Timothy McVeigh? The technical amateurishness of it? The apparent absence of a grand scheme?. The cautious rhetoric of the President? The significance of the day for T-party intoxicants? On top of that, income tax deadline and the spectre of federal tryanny that raises for the unhinged? I don’t know. But I won’t be surprised. The poison the right spreads, in both its crypto-respectable and lunatic, paranoid aspects, provides a platform for the unhinged to act upon.
    Oh, and while I’m at it, where is Wayne LaPierre? If everybody at the marathon had had a gun, would this not have happened? Go for it, Waynie boy!

  19. Loona_c says:

    A runner spokie on tv and said he saw a trash can explode as he ran by.

  20. Randy Riddle says:

    The person or persons responsible could be from the left, right, foreign or just plain crazy. It’s hard to tell.

    The venue appears to have been chosen for maximum damage to a large crowds. The date could be significant – Patriot Day and Tax Day – or not. The venue of the Marthon itself doesn’t seem to have any political or social significance that I can determine.

    I think it’s significant that only two bombs went off. I read in one report that the investigators think they were remotely detonated. That would imply that either the person or persons responsible didn’t properly arm the other devices or that they had to flee or ran into another obstacle that prevented them from detonating the others. Hopefully, that will give the investigators more promising leads.

  21. bkmn says:

    Why is anyone hedging from calling this attack terrorism? It is what it is.

    Whether domestic or from foreign lands, this was an attack on innocent people that were participating in an event that has no political agenda.

    For those that are jumping to conclusions and condemning other people, you need to STFU.

    I know some people around Boston and they might be shaken right now, but they will only rebound and be stronger because of this.

    To my friends in the area, my heart aches tonight.

  22. Indigo says:

    We are not safe.

  23. Randy Riddle says:

    Unfortunately, it’s not that difficult. A small device could be placed in a bag and just thrown in a trashcan or left in a bag or bookbag on the sidewalk. The authorities are probably looking closely at the locations of the devices to determine if they were planted in advance, the day before the event, or sometime today and if they could have been placed by an individual or a group.

  24. Yeah that was horrible.

  25. Houndentenor says:

    Exploding bombs in a public area is an act of terrorism. The only question is who is/are the terrorist(s).

  26. karmanot says:

    “our invasion of Iraq would have been terrorism, making all who took part terrorists.’ Yep.

  27. karmanot says:

    Exactly….and call it out into the light of day! Good grief, the descent of this nation into barbarity has been stunningly swift in my lifetime.

  28. The picture of the guy with his legs blown off made me break down.

  29. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I refrained from posting that to facebook because it sounds like a joke, but it’s actually a reminder to keep from assigning blame before any facts are known — the guy was a hero but got dragged through the mud

  30. nicho says:

    The only silver lining is that the bombing occurred one-half block from the medical tent where there were scores of doctors, nurses, and paramedics. So response was in seconds.

  31. nicho says:

    For the record, there are over 100 definitions of terrorism — and this is just among terrorism “experts.” By your definition, our invasion of Iraq would have been terrorism, making all who took part terrorists.

  32. nicho says:

    Too soon

  33. SkippyFlipjack says:

    New York Post is reporting “at least 12 dead.” Yes, it’s the New York Post, but there you go.

  34. BeccaM says:

    Patton Oswalt’s Facebook post pretty much sums now I feel about this:

    Boston. Fucking horrible.

    I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

    But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

    But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

    But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

    So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”


  35. jomicur says:

    What conclusion? I said I want to wait till the facts are known.

  36. MyrddinWilt says:

    The definition of terrorism is attacks on a civilian population designed to create fear for a political end.

    The attack certainly seems intended to target a civilian population but we do not know if there is a political motive. Absent a claim of responsibility or an arrest or other evidence, the motive element is not yet proven.

    It matters because if you are trying to catch the perpetrator and you follow GOP tactics then you will exclude a large number of likely suspects out of pure prejudice. For example white veterans who join gun-nut clubs and listen to wingnut radio like Timothy McVeigh and his chums.

    Its going to be a wingnut of some sort whether AQ or home grown GOP. Its authoritarian shits who do this sort of thing.

  37. SkippyFlipjack says:

    OK it’s not the deep end, per se, but isn’t that kind of jumping to conclusions before any facts are known?

  38. SkippyFlipjack says:

    BREAKING: FBI announcing that the late Richard Jewell is a person of interest

  39. BosGuy says:

    My sincere thanks to Boston’s 1st responders. I was 2 blocks from the second bombing and the fact that someone would / could do something so evil makes me so angry.

  40. jomicur says:

    Something else we do know is that both the gun nuts and the anti-marriage equality types have been threatening violence. I’m not one to go off the deep end till the facts are known, but it won’t surprise me in the least if one or the other of those gangs turns out to be involved.

  41. BeccaM says:

    So far no media confirmation about other bombs.

  42. BeccaM says:

    Everybody has theories, including the talking heads on TV. What’s important to remember: We don’t know what we don’t know.

    I recall back during the Oklahoma City Bombing how many of the TV pundits were POSITIVE it must be international terrorists. Supposedly there was even a ‘suspicious foreign national’ on a plane leaving the city. They were also saying the bombs were incredibly sophisticated and must be the work of professionals.

    It turned out, as we all learned, to be a couple of wingnuts using fertilizer and fuel oil. Before jumping to any conclusions, remember that right now we’re being flooded with both inaccurate and accurate information, as well as a whole bunch of folks saying they’re pretty sure they know what happened — based on nothing than their own guesses. The only thing we know for sure is there were two blasts, lots of shrapnel, two deaths so far and over 100 injured. It isn’t known whether whatever happened at the JFK library was related.

    We really don’t know for sure where the devices were planted or how many there may have been in total, over the two that did go off. We have no idea who is responsible or why.

  43. silas1898 says:

    Unexploded bombs are great evidence. Let’s hope it’s a clean case when they nail whoever did this. Who will be first to “claim responsibility” ?

  44. MyrddinWilt says:

    I live in Boston. Though right now I am in Rome.

    Central square has pretty dense crowds. Brattle street is pretty long, mostly just residential. But I would guess the bomb most likely planted at the Harvard Square end of the street where there is another large congregating area.

    This is looking to me more like a serial killer rather than a political protest. He is/They are just out to kill lots of people.

  45. they found two more in Cambridge, one in Central Square and the other on Brattle Street. Thankfully everyone I know in Boston has checked in on social media. Please keep this city in your prayers today.

  46. MyrddinWilt says:

    It is looking like there were two home made, relatively small bombs. Hardly worthwhile infiltrating foreign agents in unless it is to kill a lot of people or a military target. The perpetrator(s) are almost certainly living in the US.

    No reports of it being a suicide bombing either. Seems like this could have been perpetrated by a single individual.

    It is Tax day and Patriots day and the bombs were planted near the VIP section where the Newtown families were watching from. Too soon to be sure but I would be taking a strong look at tea party types. But the politics are often secondary to the murder.

  47. Director of JFK library says it was a fire, not a bomb, nothing related to the Marathon bombs

  48. Drew2u says:

    3rd explosion at the JFK library?

  49. BeccaM says:

    In Massachusetts, today is also “Patriots’ Day.”

  50. Randy Riddle says:

    Most reports are saying there were two explosions. One reporter on Twitter was quoting the police as saying they were finding “secondary devices”. Here in central NC, heard what sounded like fighter jets going over around 3:45.

    It’s too early to tell who is responsible, but interesting this happened on Tax Day. I was reminded of the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta when I heard about Boston.

    Update – 4:25 – AP reporting that police have found two additional devices that are being dismantled.

    Looks like a terrorist attack. The only question is who – foreign or domestic?

  51. BeccaM says:

    Shit… Here we go again.

    MSNBC is reporting two dead and at least 23 admitted to hospitals with injuries. From dKos, apparently confirmed reports there were in fact more than two explosive devices (how many is unclear) but only two went off.

  52. thank you for providing responsible updates. Please keep it up. I can’t believe this.

  53. nicho says:

    Knowing Joe’s history, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the exact words he uses. He even admitted all he knew was what he saw on TV.

  54. How on earth could anyone plant and detonate bombs at that location?!? WTF is going on?

  55. A_nonymoose says:

    I sure wish people would stop hating each other.

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