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Nashville bombing ‘is a wake-up call,’ ex-FBI counterintelligence chief warns

A former senior counterintelligence official thinks the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville that wounded three and damaged 41 buildings should serve as a ‘wake up call’ to the vulnerability of sensitive American infrastructure.

The comments by Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, came as investigators acknowledged they may not discover a motive for the bombing.

According to Tennessee law enforcement officials, Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, rigged his RV with explosives and parked it in a popular entertainment district in downtown Nashville just before sunrise on Christmas Day.

With the area deserted, the explosives were set off at 6:30am.

Warner was killed in the blast while three others were injured. At least 41 buildings sustained damage due to the explosion, with one of the buildings collapsing entirely.

Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said on Sunday that the Christmas Day bombing in Nasvhille should serve as a ‘wake up call’ to just how vulnerable US infrastructure is

Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, the Nashville bomber, told his neighbor 'the world is never going to forget me' days before the Christmas Day explosion that left three people injured, and officials say he may have had his dogs with him when he blew up his RV. On Monday the FBI in Memphis released this new photo of Warner showing him leaning out of what appears to be his white RV

Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, the Nashville bomber, told his neighbor ‘the world is never going to forget me’ days before the Christmas Day explosion that left three people injured, and officials say he may have had his dogs with him when he blew up his RV. On Monday the FBI in Memphis released this new photo of Warner showing him leaning out of what appears to be his white RV

Warner was killed when his explosive-laden RV detonated at 6:30am on Friday in deserted downtown Nashville

Warner was killed when his explosive-laden RV detonated at 6:30am on Friday in deserted downtown Nashville

The above image shows smoke rising from downtown after the explosion on Friday. The AT&T building is seen on the left

The above image shows smoke rising from downtown after the explosion on Friday. The AT&T building is seen on the left

In the aftermath of the explosion, widespread internet and phone disturbances were reported in the area.

AT&T telecommunications service in some parts were not restored until well into the evening as customers from as far as Kentucky and Alabama reported outages and disruptions.

The outages also affected 911 emergency communications in those areas as well.

Figliuzzi said that the bombing and its effects should alarm Americans since it demonstrated how easy it was for a lone actor to wreak havoc.

Figliuzzi compared the Nashville incident to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people. That attack was carried out by just two people and caused widespread death and destruction, he noted

Figliuzzi compared the Nashville incident to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people. That attack was carried out by just two people and caused widespread death and destruction, he noted

‘I think this is a wake up call and a warning for all of us about how vulnerable our infrastructure is, how relatively easy it is for a single individual to do this,’ Figliuzzi told CBS News on Sunday.

‘Now, we’ve concentrated, post 9/11 on, on getting our hands around all the chemical companies, mass orders of precursors for known explosives.

‘And look what an individual can do on his or her own when they simply unmask quantities of things that are under the radar screen.’

Figliuzzi warned that the possibility of a would-be bomber or ‘a copycat’ who is ‘seeing what’s happened in Nashville and trying to do this themselves is very real.

‘And we should be concerned about that.’

The former FBI official cited the single deadliest terrorist incident before the September 11, 2001, attacks – the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The attack was carried out by using a truck loaded with 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture.

The mastermind of the bombing, Timothy McVeigh, was sentenced to death for building and setting off the April 19, 1995, bomb that killed 168 people, including 19 children who were in the federal building’s daycare center.

Warner appeared to target the AT&T transmission building in Nashville (above) in the Friday morning explosion

Warner appeared to target the AT&T transmission building in Nashville (above) in the Friday morning explosion

McVeigh was executed by lethal injection in 2001. His co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, was sentenced to life in prison.

Figliuzzi drew comparisons between the Nashville bombing and the Oklahoma City tragedy.

‘You’ll remember Timothy McVeigh largely, perhaps with one or two cohorts, did this entirely by himself, getting huge amounts of fertilizer,’ he said.

‘So the short answer is, yes, it can be done.

‘It’s not the last time we’ll see this, but we should be thankful that this happened with very few deaths.’

Meanwhile, investigators are unearthing more revelations about the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville.

Christmas bomber Anthony Quinn Warner claimed to have cancer before the attack

Christmas bomber Anthony Quinn Warner claimed to have cancer before the attack

Days before detonating the explosives, Warner is said to have told a neighbor that ‘the world is never going to forget me.’ 

Officials are also investigating whether he had his dogs with him when he blew up his RV. 

Rick Laude recalled how he had a small chat with his neighbor, Warner, who officials say was the perpetrator of the Friday bombing, less than a week before the attack.

He saw Warner standing at his mailbox and pulled over his car to talk. 

Laude asked Warner how his elderly mother is doing and casually asked, ‘Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?’

Warner then cracked a smile and said, ‘Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.’

At first Laude didn’t think much of the remark saying, ‘Nothing about this guy raised any flags. He was just quiet.’

On Monday the FBI in Memphis released a new photo of Warner showing him leaning out of what appears to be his white RV. 

Investigators said they’re looking into whether Warner had his pet dogs with him in the RV when it detonated.

When asked about if Warner’s dogs perished alongside him in the blast, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said Monday: ‘That, we don’t know yet. That’s still information that we’re trying to determine, all of that detail.’ 

Warner had several dogs over the years. He was known to own two Shetland sheepdogs and a larger dog he adopted, according to his neighbor of 25 years Steve Schmoldt.

He said Warner ‘took really good care of his dogs.’ 

The explosion took place before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement from the RV (pictured) warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate

The explosion took place before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement from the RV (pictured) warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate

Investigators remove items from the basement of Warner's home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon. A source close to the investigation said authorities are combing Warner's digital footprint in their search for a motive

Investigators remove items from the basement of Warner’s home in Antioch, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon. A source close to the investigation said authorities are combing Warner’s digital footprint in their search for a motive 

Michelle Swing, 29, was given two homes by Warner, whose ties to her are unclear

Swing now lives in California

Lifelong bachelor Anthony Warner  mysteriously gave his family’s home to 29-year-old, Los Angeles-based woman Michelle Swing (above), whose ties to Warner are unclear

Warner even built a wheelchair ramp at his home so the dogs didn’t have to use the stairs, one neighbor said to The Tennessean.

Warner also said in a letter to a Los Angeles woman he gifted his $160,000 house to in November that he ‘intended to travel on Christmas Eve to spend a few weeks in the woods with his dogs.’

Investigators are still trying to piece together a motive for the bomb. Officials say Warner’s mother is cooperating with investigators. 

Warner left behind clues that suggest he planned the bombing and intended to kill himself.

‘We hope to get an answer. Sometimes, it’s just not possible,’ David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said Monday in an interview on the Today show. 

‘The best way to find motive is to talk to the individual. We will not be able to do that in this case.’

A Sunday report from the New York Times details preparations Warner made in the weeks prior to his suicide attack, including telling his ex-girlfriend that he had cancer and giving her his car. 

However, it is unclear whether he indeed had cancer.

On December 5, he also told a real estate agent that he worked for as a tech consultant that he planned to retire, according to the newspaper. 

A month before the bombing, Warner gave away the $160,000 home he lived in to a a 29-year-old, Los Angeles-based woman named Michelle Swing, whose ties to him are unclear, DailyMail.com first reported Saturday.

A property record dated November 25 indicates Warner transferred the home to the Swing in exchange for no money after living there for decades. Her signature is not on that document.  

Investigators continue to examine the site of an explosion Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in downtown Nashville, Tenn. An explosion that shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning shattered windows, damaged buildings and wounded multiple people. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Investigators continue to examine the site of an explosion Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in downtown Nashville, Tenn. An explosion that shook the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early Christmas morning shattered windows, damaged buildings and wounded multiple people. Authorities said they believed the blast was intentional. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Nashville Police Chief John Drake, left, joins a group of police officers as they embrace after speaking at a news conference Sunday. The officers are part of a group of officers credited with evacuating people before an explosion took place in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning

Nashville Police Chief John Drake, left, joins a group of police officers as they embrace after speaking at a news conference Sunday. The officers are part of a group of officers credited with evacuating people before an explosion took place in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning

Investigators are now analyzing Warner’s belongings collected during the investigation, including a computer and a portable storage drive, and continue to interview witnesses as they try to identify a motive for the explosion, a law enforcement official said. 

A review of his financial transactions also uncovered purchases of potential bomb-making components, the official said.

Investigators used some items collected from the vehicle, including a hat and gloves, to match Warner’s DNA and DNA was taken from one of his family members, the official said.

The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Warner had worked as a computer consultant for Nashville real estate agent Steve Fridrich, who said Warner told him he was retiring earlier this month.

Officials said Warner had not been on their radar before Christmas. 

A law enforcement report released Monday showed that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.

‘It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death, but again that’s all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all our partners,’ Rausch added.

The freelance IT consultant, whom neighbors described as an ‘oddball’, was ‘heavily into conspiracy theories’, a source close to the investigation told DailyMail.com. 

Warner believed 5G cellular technology was killing people, and may have been spurred on in the conspiracy theory by the 2011 death of his father, who worked for telecom BellSouth, which later merged with AT&T.

The bombing badly damaged a critical AT&T transmission center, wreaking havoc on phone communications in multiple states that the company is still racing to resolve. 

Electronic devices seized from Warner’s former home in Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, have been sent to a digital forensics laboratory to unlock his online activity and find out where he discussed his warped views.

‘We are waiting on the digital footprint that should finally provide us with some answers,’ a source explained.

‘The unofficial motive thus far is the suspect believed 5G was the root of all deaths in the region and he’d be hailed a hero.’  

Forensic analysts are also reviewing evidence from the blast site to try to identify the components of the explosives as well as information from the U.S. Bomb Data Center for intelligence and investigative leads, according to a law enforcement official who said investigators were examining Warner’s digital footprint and financial history.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said federal agents were examining a number of potential leads and pursuing several theories, including the possibility that the AT&T building was targeted.

Korneski said Sunday that officials were looking at any and all motives and were interviewing acquaintances of Warner’s to try to determine what may have motivated him.

The explosion took place before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate. 

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch (pictured) on Monday said that the bizarre forewarning indicates that Warner did not intend to hurt anyone but himself

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch (pictured) on Monday said that the bizarre forewarning indicates that Warner did not intend to hurt anyone but himself

Then, for reasons that may never be known, the audio switched to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit ‘Downtown’ shortly before the blast. 

‘When you look at all the facts at this point, obviously the audio from the vehicle warning people that an explosion was imminent, the opportunity to clear the area, certainly gives you that insight that the possibility was he had no intention of harming anyone but himself,’ Rausch told Today. 

‘It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death.’ 

In addition to the DNA found at the blast site, investigators from the Tennessee Highway Patrol were able to link the vehicle identification number recovered from the wreckage to an RV registered to Warner, officials said.

‘We’re still following leads, but right now there is no indication that any other persons were involved. We’ve reviewed hours of security video surrounding the recreation vehicle. We saw no other people involved,’ Korneski said.        




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