A brief history of terrorist attacks in Boston

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.

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The Boston Marathon conspiracy theories start

It literally took only minutes for the conspiracy theories to start after news broke about the twin explosions in Boston. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has yet to find a tragedy he couldn't exploit, wasted no time:

Jones's faux-news site, Info Wars, has already posted a story about how the blasts coincided with an FBI training exercise -- one that actually includes this paragraph:

Keep in mind I am in no way blaming the FBI for this. Most men and women who work with the FBI are upstanding citizens who would be appalled at such acts. But it is theoretically possible that one of the FBI's many "terror plots" went too far and turned into a live bomb instead of a dud followed by an arrest for "domestic terrorism."...

Be wary of who ultimately gets blamed for this, especially if it's a veteran or patriot.

The fevered ravings on Twitter are diverse: The bombs were planted by the U.S. government, or by Mossad agents, or by conspiracy theory bogeyman the Illuminati! To drive up the price of gold and silver! To justify new gun control laws! Or war in Syria! Or Iran! Or North Korea! Or, based on the timing (today being Tax Day and Massachusetts's "Patriots's Day," commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Revolutionary War), to crack down on right-wing and libertarian groups!

There's very little known about the explosions so far, and it may be days before they can be positively attributed to a person or organization. But this is an early indication of the type of controversy that will persist long after the truth has come out.