Was the Christmas bombing an act of domestic terrorism? Some experts say, 'no question.'

Posted at 7:23 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 20:23:09-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Federal investigators have avoided using the term domestic terrorism when describing the Christmas Day attack in Nashville and they say there’s a reason.

In Sunday’s press conference, reporters asked investigators if they considered this an act of domestic terrorism. Doug Korneski, the FBI Special Agent in Charge, declined to comment, but a follow-up question was asked on what they would consider domestic terrorism.

“When we assess an event for domestic terrorism nexus, it has to be tied to an ideology. The use of force or violence in the furtherance of a political or social ideology,” Korneski said.

Meaning the bomber, Anthony Warner used force or violence to further his beliefs. Whatever they may be, investigators aren’t sure at this time. On Face The Nation, Nashville Mayor John Cooper shared one of the leading theories to date.

“It feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the sight of the bombing,” Cooper said.

Metro Nashville Councilmember-At-Large Bob Mendes sent a tweet on Monday referring to an interview with a national outlet where he was asked whether he felt this was domestic terrorism. Mendes said yes and went on to say it shouldn’t matter what the target was, “the decision to blow up an RV in the middle of downtown was to make a point about something. Whatever it was, it fits the domestic terrorism definition.”

Alex Little, a former lead national security prosecutor, says there’s no question this is domestic terrorism, although he understands the hesitation.

“In terms of why we do it this way, I think 9/11 fundamentally changed how people in the United States thought about terrorist acts. We became much more used to thinking about them solely in the context of Islamic terrorism with an international focal point. We hadn’t seen a lot of domestic terrorism on the same scale in the United States,” Little said.

The closest comparison for Little was the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995, where Timothy McVeigh killed more than 160 people and injured hundreds of others. The scale of the blasts may not have been the same and as for motives, investigators are still finding out more about Warner. Many of the theories so far connect back to a distrust for AT&T and their telecommunications infrastructure.

Little understands the general public’s desire to label Warner as a domestic terrorist but says the label also comes with many implications. Businesses and homeowners may not have insurance to cover acts of terror.

“That could affect the amount of money used to rebuild downtown,” Little said.

Like it or not, Little says the focus for investigators is finding out why to avoid this happening again. Until then, you call it as you see it and investigators will do the same.