Nashville Bomb Damage to AT&T Exposes Vulnerability of U.S. Infrastructure

Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, said that the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee should be a "wake-up call" about the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure.

The warning came as AT&T continued its work to restore all its services after the bombing caused regional disruption to the communication network. CEO Jeff McElfresh said Sunday some customers were still experiencing outages more than 48 hours later.

Officials named Anthony Quinn Warner as the person responsible for Friday morning's blast outside an AT&T transmission building in downtown Nashville and said he died in the bombing.

Moments before an RV exploded, a warning was heard from the vehicle that a bomb was going to go off. The explosion affected cell phone service and disrupted hospital and police service systems throughout Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama and Kentucky.

In an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, Figliuzzi warned the blast revealed how "relatively easy" it is for a single individual to cause such disruption and warned that the public needs to be "extremely vigilant" due to the possibility of copycat attacks in the future.

.@FrankFigliuzzi1 tells @margbrennan the #Nashville bombing was a "wakeup call" to how easy it is for a single individual to carry out an attack of this nature.

Says notion of a "copycat is very real and we should be concerned about it" pic.twitter.com/qnEeIu7Whx

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 27, 2020

"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 Margaret Brennan.

"Now, we've concentrated post-9/11 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 amass quantities of things that are under the radar screen."

Figliuzzi said the public needs to be "extremely vigilant about those around them that are talking about acting out or that might be able to do this."

"Shop owners and companies who are seeing smaller orders of precursors, that's where our vulnerability is," he added.

Asked by Brennan about reports that Warner was thought to have had issued with 5G technology and conspiracy theories related to it, Figliuzzi replied that "there's tremendous dangerous polarization and it's being fueled by social media conspiracy theorists out there."

#Nashville conspiracies: @FrankFigliuzzi1 says conspiracies that the #nashvillebombing was related to 5G technology shows "there is tremendous dangerous polarization and it is being fueled by social media"

He stresses vigilance in the U.S. ahead of #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/l4BoayEv2h

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 27, 2020

Federal investigators are examining whether the AT&T building, not far from the company's landmark office tower, was deliberately targeted in the bombing.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper characterized the bombing as an attack on infrastructure on Face the Nation.

In Sunday's statement, McElfresh said the AT&T building sustained "significant damage" in the blast. "In the hours that followed the explosion, our local service remained intact through temporary battery power," he said.

"Unfortunately, a combination of the explosion and resulting water and fire damage took out a number of backup power generators intended to provide power to the batteries," prompting service disruptions across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.

Restoring service was complicated by the need to maintain the integrity of an active crime scene. "Given its importance to customers and first responders, we prioritized restoration of wireless service," McElfresh said.

"As of now, 96% of our wireless network is restored, 60% of our business services are restored, and 86% of our consumer broadband and entertainment services are restored.

"I am proud to work with so many dedicated individuals who left their family holiday celebrations and willingly answered the call to work non-stop over the last few days to restore service under some extremely challenging conditions."

McElfresh added that wireless data overages in the area would be waived for customers in the impacted area.

Nashville
Police close off an area damaged by an explosion on Christmas morning on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Terry Wyatt/Getty Images