Domestic Terrorism

ATF: The Massive West Texas Explosion Was Intentional

You may recall that several years ago a fertilizer plant in the city of West, Texas exploded and wiped a portion of the small town off the map, killing 15 and injuring hundreds more. The explosion even destroyed a school that, thankfully, wasn't occupied at the time.

What was long assumed to be some kind of industrial accident has now been ruled arson by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Special Agent in Charge Rob Elder, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the extensive scientific testing at the federal agency's Maryland office ruled out all accidental causes and confirmed an incendiary—or criminal—cause. Officials were determining whether the fire at the West Fertilizer Co. and ensuing explosion was caused by an electrical problem with a golf cart, an electrical issue with the plant, or arson.

Was this domestic terrorism?

We don't know. Federal authorities were intentionally vague when they made the announcement this afternoon due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

It seems like a stretch, at least to me, that someone would intentionally start a fire at a fertilizer plant if causing an explosion was not their intention. Fertilizer has been the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists in the past.

When it occurred in 2013, the explosion at the plant exposed the abysmally-low frequency of safety inspections that sometimes occur literally decades apart and that is no less of a concern today knowing that the plant was intentionally destroyed. Proponents of deregulation will undoubtedly cite the ATF's announcement as evidence that everything is just dandy.

  • muselet

    That’s odd.

    I’d have expected a terrorist organization which had just blown up most of a town to crow about it. That’s what terrorists do.

    Sounds more like negligence—or someone wanting to collect the insurance—to me.


    • It would be the weirdest terrorist attack ever if no one took credit for it.