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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 28, 2020

Investigators continue to look at "any and all possible motives" in the Nashville explosion after identifying the bomber as Anthony Quinn Warner.

The early Christmas morning explosion, which took place in the city's downtown area, left at least three injured and damaged more than 40 buildings. 

Investigators have said the RV involved in the Nashville explosion was broadcasting a female voice warning to evacuate with a countdown clock, mixed with the song "Downtown" by Petula Clark, CNN previously reported.

After being informed about the warning, Nashville Police officers immediately sprang into action, knocking on doors and evacuating residents from the area and likely saving many from serious injury, Mayor John Cooper said.

Investigators are looking at "any and all possible motives," Doug Korneski, the FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, said during a Sunday evening press conference.

Warner's neighbor: He was a 'hermit' 

Steve Schmoldt has lived next door to Warner since 2001, and Schmoldt's wife has lived in the house since 1995.

"He's lived there a long time and he sort of kept to himself," Schmoldt told CNN of Warner. "All we knew him by was Tony. He was kind of a hermit."

Steve Fridrich, of Fridrich & Clark, LLC, said he hired Warner as a computer consultant for his real estate business as an independent contractor for several years. 

Read more: CNN

More than 300 refugees were forced to flee when their camp in northern Lebanon was set ablaze after a row between members of the camp and a local family, United Nations and Lebanese officials said Sunday.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said a large fire had broken out in a camp, which housed about 75 families, in the al-Miniyeh region.

A Lebanese official told The Associated Press that the army is investigating the cause of the fire and conducting raids to round up those responsible for the altercation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the military planned to issue a statement later on Sunday.

Read more: Deutsche Welle 

Palestinian militant groups who comprise most of the Joint Operations Room (JOR) announced Wednesday they will be conducting a joint military exercise on Dec. 29. 

The JOR – also known as the Common Room – is a grouping of Palestinian militant factions in Gaza that operate as a quasi-army against Israel. 

Palestinian factions have been heavily promoting the event by publishing material detailing the militant groups involved in the exercise including the creation of a Telegram channel dedicated to the upcoming event. 

According to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, the military maneuver dubbed ‘Strong Supporter’ – which is taken from a verse in the Quran – is the first of its kind and is an effort to ready Palestinian militant groups against a potential military conflict against Israel. 

The upcoming drill is a first for Palestinian groups, however, the JOR has already fought several short lived conflicts against Israel in 2018 and 2019.

The last-large scale military exercise in Gaza was conducted by al-Qassam Brigades in 2018. The militant group heavily promoted the event by publishing videos of different military scenarios its fighters were training for. 

In one example, al-Qassam fighters assaulted a mock Israeli Merkava IV battle tank and successfully captured the IDF soldiers operating it. 

Additionally, in another exercise, explosions and anti-aircraft fire from an al-Qassam Brigades position unintentionally triggered Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system which launched multiple interceptor missiles against the airspace above Gaza. 

The goal of the maneuver is to send a message of deterrence to Israel by projecting unity and military strength among the largest Palestinian factions in Gaza. How Israel will react to the message remains to be seen. 

Read more: Long War Journal


 

Turkey said on Sunday its military killed 15 militants from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which it said was preparing to carry out an attack in a region of northeast Syria controlled by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies.

In an offensive last year dubbed the Peace Spring Operation, Turkey seized a 120-km (75-mile) stretch of border territory in northeast Syria from the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organisation linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia.

Moscow has said the YPG withdrew to at least 30 km (18 miles) from Turkey’s border, but Ankara has been sceptical and held out the possibility of new attacks if militants remain. U.S. support for the YPG has been among the main issues between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies.

Read more: Reuters

Police investigating a camper van blast that injured three people in Nashville on Christmas Day have named a suspect after DNA was collected at the scene.

Officials in the US state of Tennessee said the DNA matched that of Anthony Quinn Warner, 63.

Investigators believe that the blast was likely a suicide bombing.

On Sunday, the FBI said there was no indication of additional suspects involved and that it was too early to suggest a motive.

The blast outside a telecoms office disrupted communications systems in Tennessee and four other states. 

Read more: BBC News