Opinion: Why terrorist bombings rare in US in past decade
April 16th, 2013
12:56 PM ET

Opinion: Why terrorist bombings rare in US in past decade

By Peter Bergen

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden - From 9/11 to Abbottabad" and a director at the New America Foundation. Jennifer Rowland is a program associate at the New America Foundation.

It's too early to tell who is responsible for Monday's bombings in Boston. Yet after an incident like this, everyone is looking to find out who did it and why.

One possible guide is recent history: In the years since the 9/11 attacks, dozens of extremists have plotted to use explosives to further their causes in the United States.

Of the 380 individuals indicted for acts of political violence or for conspiring to carry out such attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, 77 were able to obtain explosives or the components necessary to build a bomb, according to a count by the New America Foundation.

Of those, 48 were right-wing extremists, 23 were militants inspired by al Qaeda's ideology, five have been described as anarchists and one was an environmentalist terrorist.

But in the years since 9/11, actual terrorist bombings in the U.S., like the ones at the Boston Marathon, have been exceedingly rare.

Read Peter's full take on cnn.com/opinion.


Post by:
Filed under: 9/11 • Terrorism
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Major Brant

    Since its debut, CNN has expanded its reach to a number of cable and satellite television companies, several websites, and specialized closed-circuit channels (such as CNN Airport Network). The company has 36 bureaus (10 domestic, 26 international), more than 900 affiliated local stations, and several regional and foreign-language networks around the world. The channel's success made a bona-fide mogul of founder Ted Turner and set the stage for the Time Warner conglomerate's eventual acquisition of Turner Broadcasting."

    My own, personal web blog

    April 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  2. Donna

    The two suspects look Israeli
    If they are then they are long gone back to Israel

    April 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  3. Messenger

    I hate terrorism,I strongly condemn the Marathon bombing in Boston that killed 4 and injured 141 civilians.It seems to be a cause and effect of the US negative behavior in Middle East.
    President Abama said: "He will find out who did it,and why he did it." But did Abama realize that, similar horrible situation always happen in Middle East when US launched a military attack including the use of drones to attack these countries,killing thousands of innocent civilians including women children and elderly in Iraq and Afghanistan. US 's reply is always that:"sorry,miss target or wrong target".Is that a justice? Is that a humanity?
    As that,conscientious people throughout the world have an impression that United-State of America is the super TERRORIST!

    April 18, 2013 at 5:49 am | Reply
    • ronn72565

      ok messenger...you remember somalia?...how the warlords controlled the countrys foodand water supplies,and millions died of hunger every year!!...thats the kind of thing that will happen in most countrys if the us is not there to help!!!...and thats what they are there for.these countries always call the us criminals,until they need us,and then there the greatest humanitarins around...im so sick of the bs! this country gets for helping out...i wish our country would back out,so ungreatful people like you could take care of yourself,and fall flat on your face!

      April 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  4. Truth Betold

    I feel sorry for war mongers!!! because they are going to be consumed by their passions sooner, thankfully. You don't kill the innocent and think you are fighting the USA or Britain or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, NO! you are actually provoking the wrath. The innocent are the Children of the living God and their tragic deaths will not be in vain. They don't belong to any country but rightousness essentially.
    As People we should not forget that the Bible talks about People "drunk with the blood of the innocent". Also remember the story of a King who was reduced to eating/grazing grass like a beast. Thanks God, God put in place a contingency to deal with all possible human transgressions sufficiently.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:50 am | Reply
  5. saeed

    what happened in boston was great news all the champagne bottles in my house were open the irish people of boston must be nuked burn the irish children to ashes in a nuclear sea of flames.

    April 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • ???!!!

      I am drawing cartoons at home of the Mohommad making love to a camel. Here is a fun fact: Did you know that your "prophet" also made love to 9 year old girls?

      April 18, 2013 at 12:40 am | Reply
      • USMC1371

        Is that how he got that STD?

        April 18, 2013 at 1:25 am |
      • saeed

        your mother is a irish potato farmer from dublin.

        April 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  6. George Winton, Vicksburg Mississippi

    Clearly, we need to have martial law to keep our citizens safe. All kinds of crazy right wing lunatics have guns and bombs and threaten the wellbeing and security of our social fabric. The need to go after these people is overwhelming. Lets send in the SWAT teams to clear out all the evel doers and violent domestic terrorists.

    April 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  7. helenecha

    We have not yet know who did it and why, but we know there’re many rats in a place where there is no even a signal cat and the more the hunters, the less the wild animals present.

    April 17, 2013 at 6:11 am | Reply
  8. helenecha

    What a weird question it is! Keep on fighting against terrorism! Go! American people!

    April 17, 2013 at 4:11 am | Reply
  9. StanCalif

    We need to immediately ban all sales of pressure cookers! Seriously, these things will sell like crazy now!!! Pressure cookers should only be available from licensed gun dealers. Pressure cookers went out in the 50's, who wants one today for cooking food? No one! Pressure cookers should only be sold with a background check!
    Obviously now a weapon, which the NRA can endorse as a right to own!

    April 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  10. vikingwoman

    Maybe they're called right wing extremists because that Is their political affiliation! @Jim & @DOC, unless you're on the same political spectrum why do you care!!

    April 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  11. Skorpio

    9 out of 10 Islamic clerics justify, approve and promote these attacks as Allah's vengeance against America, just watch ANY Muslim TV station of the Middle East to check it out.

    April 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  12. Jim Evans

    Re: "right wing extremist"

    You want to say Domestic Terrorist or Extremist, I would be in agreement; however, your usage of "right wing" implies a party affiliation and vilification that is irresponsible. Your disgusting politicizing of this act is grotesque. No matter what or who is discovered as responsible, they are an enemy of the people and should be referred to in that manner. For you to make such disparaging remarks before any information is confirmed is unprofessional, irresponsible and un-American. Conservatives died for this country just as liberals have. You, your producers, and your network owe the people an apology. First, for your political opportunism during a national tragedy and second, for abdicating your responsibility as a free press and becoming nothing more than a party propaganda machine.

    April 16, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • the DOC

      Jim, I, like you, have been seriously offended by the remarks of this author. I read the article by way of a link from Drudge Report. CNN's liberal bias shines through again. I am a conservative, both politically and socially. In the words of Bergen, that makes me an extremist that is capable of bombing innocent people in America. He should be fired for implying such slanderous trash. Peter Bergen – maybe you are part of the reason that more people watch Fox for their news. (WAY MORE!)

      April 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  13. George Patton-2

    Well it's too early to tell who is responsible for Monday's bombings in Boston, but you can always start with Pakistan as a prime suspect; let's bomb them first, ask questions later.

    April 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Sorry folks, I never posted the above. Some Tea Partying jerk is trying to make me look stupid since these people are too feeble minded to post anything intelligent on their own! For the record, I'm adamantly opposed to any bombing of Pakistan and Afghanistan whatsoever!!! Does anyone here remember what happened in Iraq on Feb. 13, 1991 when the Amriya air raid shelter was bombed, slaughtering over 414 civilians? I do!!!

      April 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply
      • 1371usmc

        So what's your point? They bombed a civilian target that was known to have been used by the Iraqi army as a remote command center. That's what you do in war you kill. If the civilians wanted to be safe they should have not stayed in a bunker with the Iraqi military. You lay with goats you catch flees.

        April 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • Kerry

        Gee 1371usmc, do you honestly believe that hogwash about the Amriya air raid shelter being "an Iraqi command post" as you posted above? If you do, then I feel sorry for you for your lack of intelligence. Any 5 year old would know better than that! Besides, the reason that air raid shelter was bombed was to test a new "bunker busting" device.

        April 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
      • USMC1371

        I very much believe it. Unlike you I don't listen to goat humpers. As a Marine I have served under rules forced on our warriors they do everything in their abilities to keep civilians safe as possible. Do you really think they test bombs in combat? You and goat humpet need to back back to your heard.

        April 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  14. It's

    It's because we have fewer Towel Heads. So far anyway.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  15. wjm

    I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends who have lost or injured loved on as a result of this terrible incident, as a Canadian I would like to let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them. God bless. I hope that they find the perpetrators of the terrorist attack and deal with them with extreme prejudice.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      The main reason that these so-called "terrorist" attacks have been so rare in the past decade is simply because the Islam "extremists" don't have the means to carry them out, wjm. Even Al Qaeda with it's lack of both sophistication and resources had to somehow been enabled by an outside source to pull off 9/11. At any rate, 9/11 did prove to be a boon for the Bush Administration by giving it the perfect pretext to invade Afghanistan and got the Patriot Act passed through Congress virtually unopposed!

      April 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
      • Bibbidy

        Read the article, McCarthy:

        "Of those, 48 were right-wing extremists, 23 were militants inspired by al Qaeda's ideology, five have been described as anarchists and one was an environmentalist terrorist."

        The right wing nutjobs are a bigger threat than al Qaeda.

        April 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm |

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.