Wracked by paranoia, in thrall to various conspiracy theories, Anthony Quinn Warner parked a as a hobby means in the middle of a tourist district in Nashville, Tennessee, early on Christmas Day 2020 and set off what authorities say was the biggest means bomb explosion in the U.S. in 25 years.
Among the upsetting elements that served as a wake-up call for law enforcement was that a lone disturbed individual was able to build, test and detonate such a large and complex device using materials he bought in retail stores, much like two anti-government radicals did when they blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
As part of its response, the Department of Homeland Security has teamed up with the FBI to publicize Operation Flashpoint, the latest version of a long-standing effort by the government to urge local merchants to report suspicious purchases of household materials that can be used to build bombs. It comes as the Justice Department is reorganizing itself to better fight domestic terrorism.
Bomb incidents are rising severely in the U.S. — there were 428 in 2020, according to Justice Department statistics, up by 71 percent from the year before. And it’s happening amid heightened government concern about the rise of domestic extremism, which officials say now drives the most pressing terrorist threat to Americans’ safety.
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