Why the Nashville Bombing Is Not a Suicide Bombing

Photo credit:
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/tbi-provides-update-on-downtown-nashville-bombing/

Although it may be easy to just classify incidents such as the Nashville bombing in what seems to be an apparent way, we cannot do so carelessly.  As a researcher who has studies the topic of suicide bombings for more than 15 years, we have definitions that clearly delineate what certain acts are and are not.  In the Nashville incident, Anthony Quinn Warner, has widely been labeled as a suicide bomber.  He is in fact NOT a suicide bomber.  The basic definition of a suicide bomber is:  someone (generally a terrorist) who kills others using bombs, while taking their own life in the process.  In some cases, a suicide bombing may be a targeted assassination such as the suicide bombing that killed Benazir Bhutto after her return to Pakistan after an 8-year exile in 2007; or it may be an attempt to kill as many people as possible such as the suicide truck bombings in Qahtaniya, Iraq targeting a Yazidi tribe also in 2007 that left 463 dead.

In examining the information in the Nashville bombing on Christmas morning, the suspect definitely used a bomb that was inside his RV.  There is no disputing this fact.  Based on evidence found at the scene, authorities also believe that he did in fact kill himself in the process.  There may, however, be some argument as to whether or not this was an act of terrorism as so many definitions vary.  I am not here to argue whether this should be considered terrorism or not.  What is clear is that he did not intend to kill others.  The fact that there was a countdown until detonation and a repeated audible warning, “This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” which clearly indicated that he did not have any intent on killing any others around him. Had he had the intention of killing people, he probably would have picked a time later in the day when there were people around. Instead he detonated in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. He also could have detonated when the police arrived instead of giving a 15 minute countdown to evacuate. Therefore, this incident should not be classified as a suicide bombing. It is still a bombing, and doesn’t negate that this was a bad act, it just not a suicide bombing. 

About Dr. Vesna Markovic

Dr. Vesna Markovic is Associate Professor and Chair of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University. Her expertise includes Terrorism (Suicide Bombings, Financing Terrorism), Transnational and Organized Crime, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems

One thought on “Why the Nashville Bombing Is Not a Suicide Bombing

  1. Sherri
    January 8, 2021 at 11:44 am

    He was a suicide bomber. Such B S He wrote a letters to several people that we have yet to see. He believed that Qanon crap. I think the reason they are playing it down is money cause insurance DOES NOT PAY in a terrorist attack.

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