While the earlier announcement that some amount of human remains had been found among the wreckage of the RV that exploded in Nashville, TN on Christmas morning left some wondering if there was any surviving bomber … it appears the answer may be yes. CBS News is reporting that police have a “person of interest” in connection with what the media seems maddeningly unwilling to label a terrorist bombing. The person is reportedly connected to the RV, but that does not necessarily mean they were part of, or aware of, the bombing.
Though the Nashville bomb has, so far as is currently known, resulted in only three non-critical injuries, the damage to buildings in the area is extensive. Damaged equipment, and electrical outages in the area, are still affecting communication in the Nashville area, and at points have caused disruptions in cell service, internet service, or 911 service as far away as Memphis, Knoxville, and central Kentucky. While computer-generated warnings issued by the RV in the 15 minutes prior to the explosion provided some opportunity for those in the largely business district to leave the area, and either the local communications hub or other businesses may have been targeted, there seems to be little doubt that one purpose of the blast was to spread fear through violent action — which is terrorism.
But the motive for this terrorism is not known at this time.
The person of interest has been identified as Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, from the Nashville area. Reports indicate that multiple tips came into the FBI indicating that an RV similar to the one used in the bombing was parked at Warner’s home in the days before the explosion.
Federal agents have come to Warner’s home. However, it remains unclear at this point whether Warner is suspected of being the bomber.
If someone started talking to you about the bombing of a federal building, it seems that the conversation must be aimed at the Oklahoma City Bombing. In that event, Timothy McVeigh and others worked to create a massive bomb that killed 168 Americans — including 19 children — as part of a protest against FBI actions involving extremists. But that was far from the first time someone bombed such a building. It wasn’t even the first time someone did it in mid-September. In 1969, Jane Alpert planted a bomb at the federal building in New York City. That was just one of eight she planted that year out of a stated anger that the radical left wasn’t radical enough. The Weather Underground was responsible for at least 20 bombings.
The causes for terrorist actions can be almost anything. “Mad Bomber” George Metesky terrorized New York City for two decades with a series of at least 33 bombs planted everywhere from storage lockers at Grand Central Station, the shelves at the New York Public Library, to inside the upholstery of seats in city movie theaters. Why did he do it? According to Metesky, he was upset over the high cost of electricity. His first bomb was left at a Consolidated Edison power plant.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four young girls on September 15, 1963 was just one of dozens of incidents in which the Klu Klux Klan, other organizations, and individuals using bombing as a means to both murder and intimidate Black Americans. In more recent years, white supremacists have tended to use the face to face devastation offered by modern semiautomatic weapons, but bombing has long been a part of their arsenal.
“Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski mailed out or hand delivered at least 16 bombs, and ended up leaving behind not just three deaths, but two dozen injuries. His motivations, or at least as much of them as can be gleaned from the manifesto that Kaczynski insisted he wanted published — and whose publication allowed him to be identified as the bomber — gave his motivation as a hatred for increasing automation and industrialization.
Abortion clinics have been the target of what can seem to be one endless program of bombings and other violence. The period both before and after 9/11 was marked by a number of smaller incidents of terrorist bombings in the United States in the name of radical Islam. Cesar Sayoc—the guy with the Trump van—mailed 16 packages to Democratic officials in October of 2018 with no apparent motive beyond MAGA. In 2009, 17-year-old Kyle Shaw set off a bomb in a New York Starbucks in what he described as a “tribute" to the movie Fight Club.
All of this is just to say … we don’t know what’s going on in Nashville. We don’t know who is behind the bombing. We don’t know why they took this act. There are answers that may be more frightening than others, but no answer is going to make any real sense.