Debunking Austin Bombing Conspiracy Theories

This post has been updated

Early Wednesday morning, the brief reign of terror unleashed by the domestic terrorist mailing package bombs across Austin, TX, ended when the alleged bomber, 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, was discovered, chased down by police, and with a SWAT team moving in, detonated an explosive device in his car.

And if you think an open-and-shut ending to a crime spree means there won’t be conspiracy theories about it…well, you haven’t read enough of my work.

From what we know about Conditt, he was a homeschooled son of Amway distributors, who did a stint at community college and worked at a small business that made semiconductors. After four years there, he was laid off. He had little social media footprint, was conservative but not particularly political, and seen as “quiet and introverted.”

Little of this fits the profile of a domestic terrorist, so rather than wait for more information to be discovered by law enforcement, conspiracy theorists began filling in the blanks themselves.

Sure enough, several prominent conspiracy theorists claimed that the FBI had already scrubbed his social media. This image surfaced as “proof” that his Facebook had immediately been pulled down.

Of course, there’s no proof that this page belonged to Conditt, or is real in the first place. Several sources did report, however, that Conditt’s father had already deleted his Facebook and Twitter page, the latter of which was a bizarre scramble of Amway terms.

Notably, during college, Conditt maintained an ultra-conservative blog, using the name “Tavar” to post about half-a-dozen ill-considered rants against same-sex marriage, “free abortions,” and the sex offender registry. It’s not so much the musings of a hardcore conservative as it is a college kid trying to figure out what he thinks he believes. That blog is still up, so maybe the FBI missed it.

There are also rumors that during the bombing spree, Conditt was posting on Reddit under the handle “AustinBomber.” But that thread was quickly proven to be a hoax, and Reddit  pulled it down.

Then there’s #TheStorm, the right wing conspiracy theory du jour that’s consumed the internet and baffled the mainstream media. If you don’t know The Storm, it’s the theory that President Trump is readying a mass purge of Democratic, Deep State, and Hollywood sex criminals, preparing to send tens of thousands to Gitmo, while dropping crumbs of “intel” on 4chan under the name “Q.” It’s a fun ride.

Given that The Storm is a conspiracy theory that envelops everything around it, it’s no surprise that Q and his acolytes have embraced the Austin bombings as part of their evolving narrative.

One theory that popped up is that Q used one of his “intel drops” to predict the exact day and time the bomber would be taken out.

Of course, timestamps are easy to fake, and often wrong. There’s nothing in this post that proves Q (whoever he or she is) knew when the bomber would kill himself, nor any indication how they would know.

Another nugget in that post is the FBI “opened a case on Q,” but there’s no evidence that’s true either. One would think they’d be too busy faking a collusion investigation against President Trump…

Then there’s the theory that the bombings were a false flag, carried out to distract from the “great awakening” that Q is unveiling. Or from some secret meeting between Rex Tillerson and Mark Zuckerberg. Or Seth Rich’s murder. Or Hillary Clinton’s secret video. And behind it all was Donald Trump, using a complex code of misspellings to tell us “what’s really happening.”

While it’s an entertaining story that Q and his followers are weaving, it’s just that. A story. No proof exists that Q has ever leaked any real top secret information, predicted the future, or blown the doors off any conspiracy.

Putting aside the silly stories, obvious hoaxes, and standard accusations leaves us with what we had when we started. We have

Mark Anthony Conditt, an obviously damaged young man who murdered multiple people at random, and terrorized a whole city for reasons that might never be known.

When faced with that existential nightmare, I’d probably cook up a conspiracy theory too.

3/22/18 edit: Earlier today, police revealed that Conditt recorded a 25 minute “confession” video on his cell phone. The bomber not only admitted making and sending the explosives, but gave detailed descriptions of the devices and how he made them. However, he still made no references to why he did it, what his goals were, or whether he had any links to known terrorist groups. His motive remains unknown.

 

 

 

 

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