Before and After 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

At the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, McVeigh loaded a rented vehicle in 1995, lit a homemade bomb with a 4800lb fuse (made of fertilizer and diesel fuel), and then left. 168 people were killed when the explosion that followed destroyed the federal building and two other nearby buildings. (Department of Homeland Security, 2004). When two bombs were planted in backpacks at the Boston Marathon's finish line, twelve seconds apart from one another, the United States was the victim of another terrorist assault in 2013. The Boston Marathon bomb attack was thought to have been planned to explode at a time to inflict most casualties (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, 2013). Three were reported dead and over one hundred seventy injured. The motivation and person(s) responsible both for the attacks in Oklahoma and Boston are still unknown. What some have insinuated is that this “feels” like a domestic attack. Although these attacks appear to be domestic terrorism with a different time gap, they demonstrate the evolving strategy of exporting individual to countries of interest for the training of homegrown terrorists which results to severe attacks on the homeland.

Pre 9/11 Terrorist Event

The bombing in Oklahoma City occurred on 19th of April, 1995, when a handful of militia members, Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh, and Michael Fortier planted explosive at the Murrah Federal Building Oklahoma City’s downtown. The magnitude of the explosion was so significant that The North wing of Alfred P. Murrah building was vaporized with more than 50% of the buildings in the 16-block radius destroyed. McVeigh Timothy, a famous and retired United States Army, parked a truck filled with 7,000 pounds of explosives at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on the 19th of April, 1995, plugged earplugs, and ran the truck into several blocks detonating it. It injured and killed several children who had just been dropped off by their families at day care, federal workers, and several bystanders. Even though the memorial exists on the location of the former Murrah Building, the memorial grounds dedicated to the April 19, 1995, tragedy is almost six times larger than the original footprint of the federal building. Their presence has fundamentally altered not only the character of the area but also the urban fabric of the city. The relative expansiveness of the Memorial is a telling testament to the lasting importance that the event has had on the citizens, the social and political institutions, and the fortunes of Oklahoma City. It reflects the fact that, in the post 9/11 world, the term “Oklahoma City” has become a form of political shorthand, a placeholder for substantive and necessary discussions concerning homegrown, domestic terrorist threats, and the impact that those upon American society.

Post 9/11 Terrorist Event

On April 15th, 2013, two perpetrators detonated homemade explosive devices at the finishing mark of the 2013 marathon in Boston, injuring 264 people and killing 3; these attacks constituted the first significant attack of terrorism on the American land since 11th September, 2001(Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, 2013). In the following days, police and federal investigators conducted a high-profile manhunt that resulted in the death of one suspect and the apprehension of another (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, 2013). Echoing past research on the distal impact of national traumas (e.g., Silver et al., 2004), a study of reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings in the United States found that Bostonians experienced the greatest levels of acute stress in the days and weeks following the attacks, but that intense media coverage transmitted the harmful effects of this event well beyond the Boston metropolitan area (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, 2013).

Terrorist Events Comparison

There is a great deal of speculation in the media over the attackers and motivations. Some suspect that connections to the date/day (e.g., Patriot’s Day, the third Monday of April in which the first battles of the Revolutionary War are celebrated, as well as Tax Day, April 15th and Hitler’s birthday, April 20th) had a role in planning the Boston bombings, as it is believed they played roles in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. This might indicate that the attacks were acts of domestic terrorism. The Americans are presently more at-risk from violent radical activities from both domestic and foreign organizations and ideologies, hierarchical networks, decentralized cells, and lone wolves. Recent trends in domestic radicalization have shown a 67% increase in hate based organizations since 2000 (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2013). The Boston attack has been cheered by many throughout the world, including the Westboro Baptist Church, a radical Christian group based in Kansas (Nelson, 2013). As some pray for the Boston victims, others pray for more attacks. Where there is pervasive, multi-sourced threat, it can be much more difficult to single out solid suspects.

The connections to the bombing method (i.e., the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that was constructed with a pressure cooker and added shrapnel) can be traced to terrorist activity in the Middle East. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this technique has been used in Afghanistan and other regions for years (2004). Because of this, some suspect these attacks were acts of international terrorism. The first issue of the English language radical Islamist magazine Inspire (2010) mentions the use of a pressurized cooker as the “most effective method” for housing a specific type of IED. While the use of a pressure cooker is mentioned in Inspire, it is only in brief, and this method has been used for decades in many parts of the world, including Nepal (the 1990s, 2002), India (2003), France (2003), France (2004), India (2006), Pakistan (2010), New York (2010), Texas (2011), and Afghanistan (2013) among others (Vinograd and Dodds, 2013). Terrorists trained in Afghan terrorist training camps or instructed by Inspire led some of these incidents. This information in itself is not sufficient to suspect radical Islamists as having a role in these attacks. The use of pressure cookers for bombs has been instructed in other sources, such as the Anarchist Cookbook published in 1971 (Fischer, 2013), and even if the information was diffused from the al-Qaeda sources, the al-Qaeda manuals and other documents have been discussed and traded on public forums such as Stormfront, a forum for White Supremacists (Department of Homeland Security, 2004). What we see with pressure cooker IEDs may be a case of cultural convergence, in which many cultures and traditions use pressure cookers, or other similar objects, to house explosives, because it has been found to be effective, and not necessarily because the information diffused directly from one violent group to others. The use of pressure cookers for bombs is much more common than many of us in the US may have thought before this attack.

President Obama said that “any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror” (Fox News, 2013). This may lead many to believe this is an acknowledgment of terrorism by the government, though that may not be the case. Attacks against civilians can be acts of terror, in effect terrorizing the civilians; however, that does not necessarily equate them to acts of terrorism, which are necessarily politically or socially charged. There are too many uncertainties in the world, too many changes, and not enough adaptation at the front of globalization, the information age, and environmental change. These processes affect people at all geographic scales. The country and the rest of the world are changing very quickly. Some people choose not to follow suit; others do not have the resources or abilities. This will drive and facilitate conflict and violence in the future. Most details of what happened on April 15th are still unknown. Media sources are rushing to print details of the attack, though the truth takes time. As we get further from the event, the media will get closer to the truth. Whatever the outcome, people must prepare for a sustained higher risk of violence for the foreseeable future.


From the discussions, it emerges that the origin of the terrorist attack in 9/11 can be traced from the 1995 preparations. It has been affirmed that in this year McVeigh packed a rental car at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, lit a fuse of a 4800 lb. The car had a homemade fuse of a 4800 lb. At the end, they would experience an explosion that destroyed the federal building as well as two other structures nearby and caused the death of 168 people according to the statistics given by Homeland Security. Much was to be put in place and the country after suffering the deadliest attack would then plot on a revenge. Different tactics were employed to ensure that terrorists were met in full force similar to the ones that they had used to attack the US. Nonetheless, the terrorists would still attack the US once in a while in a post 2013 arrangement. The attack happened when two bombs, twelve seconds from each other, were concealed in backpacks at the finishing mark of the 2013 marathon in Boston. The reason behind the attack and the person(s) responsible both Oklahoma and Boston are still unknown. What some have insinuated is that this “feels” like a domestic attack. Even though many at times, the attacks appear to be domestic terrorism with a different time gap, they demonstrate the evolving strategy of exporting individual to countries of interest for the training of homegrown terrorists which results to severe attacks on the homeland. Nonetheless, the US and its citizens must always prepare for any likely terrorist attack given the pressure and the efforts that they have invested in dealing with terrorism post and pre-9/11.


Department of Homeland Security (2004) Information Bulletin: Potential Terrorist Use of Pressure Cookers. Washington DC.

Fischer, M. (2013) Knowledge of pressure-cooker bombs is not limited to readers of al Qaeda’s ‘Inspire’ magazine. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Fox News (2013) FBI, Boston police say range of suspects, motives remains ‘wide open.’ Retrieved from

Nelson, S. (2013) Westboro Baptist church plans to picket Boston funerals. US News. Retrieved from

Reed, J. (2013) Pressure cookers have been used to hide IEDs in Afghanistan for years. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from:

Vinograd, C. and Dodds, P. (2013) Pressure cooker bombs used around the world. MSN News, Retrieved from

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