Intentional Explosion: Terrorism

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Credit Nashville PD, via Twitter

We all woke up yesterday to the news that a large explosion happened in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. It soon was called an intentional explosion and thought the day this monicker remained. In fact, as we woke up this morning this monicker remains. It is not baffling. Since this is most likely far-right, militia based, terrorism.

First, let's review the definition of the term under the US Code:

(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that —
(A)involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B)appear to be intended —
(i)to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii)to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii)to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
©occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States;

So, here we are. We know that some white supremacy militias have been talking a little revolution for years. We also know that a group of them planned to attack critical infrastructure. This is not just something in the planning stages, since we have had actual operations in the past. So far most of these attacks have been at transformer substations:

The immediate consequences resulting from the damage or destruction of transformers at multiple locations would be widespread power outages. The April 2013 attack at the Metcalf substation could have been devastating if the attackers had better knowledge of substation components’ criticalities and transformers’ defeat mechanisms than they displayed that spring night. Even more so if they had attacked more than one substation that night. A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission study in 2013 obtained by the Wall Street Journal assessed that taking down nine large transformers could cause a coast-to-coast blackout. However, there has not been an attack on multiple transformers in the U.S.

Other consequences of attacking transformers and other components include the high cost of repair and replacement — $2 million to $7.5 million before transportation and installation costs — and replacement time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the time between a large transformer order and delivery can take almost 2 years, depending on whether they are produced domestically or overseas.

So here we are. We find ourselves with that smells like another far-right attack. Yes, there have been rumors online from the usual suspects that this was Antifa and it did not help that yesterday there were references to the Weathermen, who also looked for spectacular attacks that left relatively few casualties. There was another comparison, very appropriate as well, to the Troubles.

There was one word missing though. This was the word terrorism. Appropriately, observers on social media did state the obvious. If the perpetrators were brown and foreign, in particular Muslim, we would have seen this word used very fast. However, whenever the right-wing is involved in the United States, the media and law enforcement dance around it.
There was no loss of life among civilians, we think. The reason for this is that the perpetrators had a warning from the vehicle bomb that this was going to go off within fifteen minutes. This gives enough time to evacuate, and not enough to disarm. Six officers used that time to evacuate the area and save lives. However, human remains have been found. So whether this was one of the people involved or a civilian caught in the blast, we don’t know.
The explosion disrupted internet, and cell phone service, as well as 911 dispatch for several police departments. It may have been a run to analyze police response.

AT&T reported some service interruptions due to damage at their facility. Widespread 911 issues were reported in the area and AT&T internet and phone services were disrupted in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama. Flights out of Nashville were temporarily grounded because of telecommunications problems at Nashville International Airport.

“We are in contact with law enforcement and working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service,” company spokesman Jim Greer said.

The FBI and ATF, which activated its national response team, were taking lead on the investigation. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt Foster would not elaborate on leads in an afternoon press conference, and encouraged the public to submit online tips at fbi.gov/nashville. “Please tell us what you know,” Foster said. “We need your leads. We need your help.”

This disruption is exactly what terrorists want to achieve. It causes fear in a civilian population and we know that at least some militias do not recognize the election of Joe Biden as President-Elect. Nor do they like a multicultural nation. Their goal is the creation of a white ethnostate. They are part of the “Stop the Steal” movement, which has demonstrated across the United States.
We are now in that dangerous time some of us have warned off for years. Also, there was a post of a very suggestive photo on 4Chan before the attack happened. In fact, on the night of the 24th, leading to the 25th. The photo has the usual elements, including a frog, standing for the god Kek, which has become big in QAnon circles. Could this be the equivalent of the usual manifestos? And if so, it is harder to read than just a PDF, as has been the method for some time.

If that photo is related, this is definitely terrorism and it is time we start using the term widely when it comes to the far right. We know that terrorism is growing in the United States, and mostly from that end of the political spectrum. Grievance politics and racism are behind quite a bit of it. But it is critical that we are very cleared eyed about this.

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Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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