A new Henry Jackson Society (HJS) analysis reveals over two decades of Massachusetts links to al Qaeda-inspired terrorism


The alleged Boston bombers – Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – are the latest in a broader pattern of militancy in the state of Massachusetts. 26 other individuals closely tied to jihadist activity have been based in Massachusetts, including 15 individuals who lived there, with offenses going back over 20 years.

Based on analysis from the new HJS report Al-Qaeda in the United States: A Complete Analysis of Terrorism Offenses, these individuals include:

  • Those who have fought jihad abroad – including a Boston cab driver ‘martyred’ fighting Lebanese forces in 2000
  • Those who have fundraised for jihad via Care International – a Boston-based charity  acting as a front group for the al-Kifah Refugee Center, itself the U.S. branch of Makhtab al-Khidamat – an organisation co-founded by Osama bin Laden and key jihadist ideologue Abdullah Azzam
  • Eleven of the 9/11 hijackers, who hijacked planes leaving from Boston Logan International Airport, used Boston as a base prior to their attack
  • Aafia Siddiqui, a female al-Qaeda associate who attempted to murder U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan
  • Rezwan Fedarus, who plotted terrorist attacks using explosives on U.S. soil

Robin Simcox, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and co-author of Al-Qaeda in the United States, has commented:

While not previously the target of a terrorist attack, Boston – and Massachusetts more broadly – has been a hive of militant activity for over two decades. Al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda inspired operatives have used Massachusetts as a base from which to plan, finance and commit acts of terror.

The U.S. has been largely successful in degrading al-Qaeda’s capacity to commit coordinated, mass casualty acts of terrorism. However, there is a clear need to remain vigilant against those who have been radicalized in the U.S. and aspire to smaller – but still deadly – terrorist acts. The al-Qaeda inspired threat is ongoing, and should continue to be treated with the utmost seriousness.

The full analysis, Historical Ties to Jihadism in Massachusetts, can be read here.