APD Interim Chief Manley calls bomber 'domestic terrorist'

Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley is now calling the Austin bomber a domestic terrorist.

Manley said after listening to the accused bomber's confession tape, it still does not appear that the attacks were politically motivated. However, it is clear that the bombings caused terror within the Austin community and that's why the Interim Chief is now comfortable using that term. “I've had time now, a little over a week, really to reflect on the impact that this has had across our community,” said Manley. 

“And I'm really responding to the community, who has been very vocal on this and who has expressed their concerns, and I recognize that, and I accept that, and based on that I believe that this was domestic terrorism,” Manley added.  

That's not the label Manley used up to this point and he said if the bomber had made it to a trial, that label wouldn't hold up in court because the bomber doesn't appear to be politically motivated. 

“If we look specifically to the ideological reasons, that still does not exist based on what we have right now,” said APD Interim Chief Manley.  

Under the Patriot Act, a person is considered a domestic terrorist if they commit a dangerous act to human life that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

“There are very specific definitions for terrorism in federal law and we were addressing that at that time during the investigation because we were focused on putting a stop to the violence,” Manley said.  

Manley isn't the first official to classify the bomber as such. 

A spokesperson for Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent this statement regarding the issue: 

"McCaul believes that regardless of the legal definition, no one can question that the serial bomber terrorized the community of Austin and the surrounding neighborhoods.  As a former federal prosecutor, McCaul is currently working with various stakeholders to determine whether it is time to make domestic terrorism a federal crime."

Regardless of the label used at the time, Manley said federal authorities were involved since March 2 when the first bomb exploded. 

The Interim Chief was very clear that the decision whether to use the term domestic terrorism did not and will not affect the investigation at all.