Cell phone towers are increasingly being targeted by conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who ‘want to instill fear, disrupt essential services and cause economic damage’, according to an internal report by New York police. seen by The intercept.
The report, released by the NYPD Intelligence Bureau on January 20, cites a number of recent attacks on U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, including individuals breaking fiber optic cables and removing back batteries from wireless sites. The sections of the report shared by The intercept do not explicitly attribute the political motives to these attacks.
The most sensational attack cited in the report is the case of Anthony Quinn Warner, who detonated a bomb outside an AT&T building in Nashville, Tennessee on Christmas Day 2020. A separate report released by the FBI. this week said Warner was driven by conspiracy theories and paranoia, but that his attack was not necessarily inspired by any ‘broader ideological motives’.
The NYPD intelligence report suggests that diverse groups view attacks on U.S. infrastructure as an effective way to achieve their goal of promoting general mistrust in government. ‘It calls for discussion in one neo-Nazi chat group where members’ had strong support in exploiting civil unrest in the United States by attacking the country’s infrastructure ‘, including proposals for attacks on’ bridges, railways and electric grids’.
“In recent months, white supremacist extremists, neo-Nazis, far-right Telegram groups and online conspiracy theorists have all highlighted the attack on valuable critical infrastructure targets,” the NYPD Intelligence Bureau report said.
In addition to the NYPD’s intelligence briefing, The intercept notes that on January 5 and 6, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security issued three reports of vandalism against self-towers in New York, West Virginia, and Tennessee. An anonymous federal law enforcement official said The intercept that although threats to infrastructure were not uncommon, it was strange to see three together in such a short time. It was noteworthy that the attacks took place in the Capitol the day before and the day of the American riots.
In addition to threats by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, cell towers have been increasingly targeted by conspiracy theorists, both in the US and elsewhere. Last year, there were a spate of attacks on cell towers in Europe related to the false beliefs that new 5G equipment spreads the coronavirus among the population and weakens the immune system of individuals. Dozens of sites have been targeted by arsonists in the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Italy and beyond. Although such attacks may have been motivated by conspiracy theories against 5G, they had the same outcome as the far-right groups, including the disruption of the work of first responders.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment The edge with regard to the authenticity of the report seen by The intercept.