FBI ends investigation and says Nashville bomber wasn’t driven by ideology

The bombing injured three and damaged dozens of buildings

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 15 March 2021 19:57 GMT
Police camera captures moment of Nashville blast

After a man blew himself up in an recreational vehicle near an AT&T building in Nashville on Christmas Day, investigators were exploring whether this was the latest worrying case of conspiracy theories morphing into ideological violence.

Authorities said they had reason to believe AnthonyQuinn Warner, who was identified by traces of his DNA at the site, reportedly believed in the lizard people conspiracy, that celebrities like the Clintons and Justine Bieber were actually reptiles from space, and that the man hunted for aliens in his RV in rural Tennessee. 

But according to the FBI, which recently wrapped its investigation into the Nashville bombing, Mr Warner wasn’t trying to make some kind of ideological point. Instead, a combination of “deteriorating interpersonal relationships” and paranoid thinking led him to take his own life, they said in a statement, and that he seemed not to want to harm many others.

“The FBI’s analysis did not reveal indications of a broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change, nor does it reveal indications of a specific personal grievance focused on individuals or entities in and around the location of the explosion,” the FBI said in a statement on Monday, the AP reported.

They also noted the bombing seemed planned in a way to avoid “undue injury.” Mr Warner drove an RV packed with explosives into Nashville early in the morning on a holiday weekend, and played a warning message on speakers for minutes before setting off the explosion.

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The blast injured three people, damaged dozens of buildings, and temporarily impacted cell phone service. 

In addition to raising concerns about effective law enforcement—police had tried to search Mr Warner’s home in 2019 after hearing he had lots of guns and talked about bomb-making, and the FBI ran a records-check—the attack at first seemed to be the latest example of conspiracies working their way into a violent kind of politics.

Experts have warned of a coming “mass radicalization,” thanks to the Republican party’s mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and a polarized media environment, that could increase the frequency of right-wing violence like the “Pizzagate” shooting in 2016.

There, the gunman was inspired by a conspiracy that Democrats were operating a child sex ring out of a Washington DC pizzeria.

Those same concerns, that elites and Democrats are trafficking children, with the added wrinkle that Donald Trump would save them, is a major part of the QAnon mass delusion, whose followers were among the attackers during the 6 January Capitol riots.

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