October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts

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October 2018 United States bombing attempts
Original-bomb-photo.jpg
Photo of the inactive 'pipe-bomb' sent to CNN.[1]
Location United States
Date October 22, 2018–present
Target Democratic Party members and prominent critics of U.S. President Donald Trump[2][3]
Attack type
Attempted mail bombings
Weapons Pipe bombs
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
0
Assailants Cesar Sayoc, Jr.[4]
Motive Unknown

In late October 2018, at least twelve packages containing pipe bombs were mailed within the U.S. Postal Service system to several prominent critics of U.S. President Donald Trump, including various Democratic Party politicians (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris), actor Robert De Niro, billionaire investor George Soros, former CIA Director John O. Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.[2]

Jim Acosta of CNN and other sources very quickly released images of the device claimed to have been sent to Brennan, seemingly compromising any investigation.[5]

The first bomb was placed in the mailbox at Soros' home in Beford, New York.[2][6] Later the same day, the United States Secret Service intercepted bombs addressed to Obama and Clinton.[2] CNN received one addressed to Brennan at its New York City studios in Time Warner Center, which was evacuated.[7][2]

A similar device sent to former U.S. Attorney General Holder, which had the wrong address, was instead delivered to the Florida office of U.S. Representative Wasserman Schultz, whose name and address was on the return labels of all of the packages.[8] U.S. Representative Waters was targeted with two packages intercepted by authorities, one in Washington, D.C. by the United States Capitol Police,[9] and another in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).[10] The New York City Police Department removed a package found in Tribeca at an office used by De Niro.[11] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) removed two packages found at postal facilities in Delaware, addressed to former Vice President Biden.[12]

No one has been injured in the attempted attacks, which prompted an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.[2] None of the devices appeared capable of exploding outside of a controlled setting.[13] The FBI is treating the investigation as domestic terrorism.[14] If convicted, the bomber could face up to 100 years in prison (10 years for each bomb sent).[15] On October 26, 2018 a man was arrested in Plantation, Florida in connection with dissemenating the explosive devices.[16]

Incidents

October 22–23

The first discovered device was targeted against George Soros (left), followed by multiple other devices targeted against high-profile Democratic politicians and public figures such as Hillary Clinton (center) and Barack Obama (right).

A device was found in the mailbox at the home of George Soros in Bedford, New York, on October 22.[17] A device addressed to Hillary Clinton was discovered the following evening, before it reached her home in Chappaqua, New York.[18]

October 24

A device addressed to former President Barack Obama was intercepted by Secret Service during a mail screening in Washington, D.C. on October 24.[18] Additionally, a package containing an explosive and a suspicious powder was found in CNN's mail room in the Time Warner Center in New York City, addressed to former CIA Director John O. Brennan (misspelled as "Brenan").[19] CNN reported that law enforcement said the package was delivered by courier.[18] Brennan has served as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for MSNBC and NBC News since February 2018, but has appeared on CNN in the past.[20] The bomb alarm went off during CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto.[21] They left the building and together with their colleague Kate Bolduan and Athena Jones and kept reporting via Skype over a cellphone line.[22][23][24]

A suspicious package addressed to U.S. Representative Maxine Waters was intercepted by United States Capitol Police.[18] A package addressed to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with the wrong address was returned to the purported sender, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.[18] A second package addressed to Waters led to the evacuation of a U.S. Postal Service facility in South Central Los Angeles.[10]

A building containing offices for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and the San Diego Union-Tribune was evacuated Wednesday morning due to a suspicious stack of postal boxes. Roads in downtown San Diego were closed for several hours, but the contents were determined to be only random items. [25][26]

October 25

In the early morning hours of October 25, a package was found in Tribeca, New York City, addressed to actor Robert De Niro via his company TriBeCa Productions.[11]

Authorities also found a package in New Castle, Delaware, addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden (whose full name, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., was used). It was returned to the post office due to insufficient postage.[12] A second package meant for Biden, this one with a wrong address, was found at a facility in Wilmington, Delaware.[12]

The Miami-Dade Police Department and federal authorities believe several of the packages went through a mail processing and distribution center in Opa-locka, Florida and are currently searching the facility with a bomb squad and K-9 unit.[27]

October 26

Authorities found two packages similar to previous packages. One addressed to Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper was found in a New York City postal facility, while another addressed to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker was found in a Florida postal facility. [28]

A man in Plantation, Florida, was arrested by authorities in connection with the explosive devices.[29]

List of Incidents

List of Incidents
Date Addressee Location Discovered
October 22 George Soros Bedford, NY - Home of Soros
October 23 Hillary Clinton Chappaqua, NY - Intercepted by Secret Service
October 24 Barack Obama Washington, D.C. - Intercepted by Secret Service
October 24 Eric Holder Sunrise, FL - Office of Debbie Wasserman Schultz
October 24 Maxine Waters Los Angeles, CA - Postal Facility
October 24 John O. Brennan New York, NY - Time Warner Center
October 24 Joe Biden Wilmington, DE - Post Office
October 25 Joe Biden New Castle, DE - Post Office
October 25 Robert De Niro New York, NY - De Niro's Manhattan production company
October 26 James Clapper New York, NY - Post Office
October 26 Cory Booker Opa-locka, FL - Postal Facility

Devices and envelopes

External video
Officials Give an Update on Columbus Circle Explosive Device, CBS New York (October 24)
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts is located in USA
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts
Red pog.svg – Suspicious packages were intercepted in the following U.S. cities: Bedford, New York; Chappaqua, New York; Los Angeles; New Castle, Delaware; New York City; Sunrise, Florida; Washington, D.C.; and Wilmington, Delaware

The devices are believed to be pipe bombs. New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill has stated that law enforcement also found an envelope containing white powder in the package sent to CNN.[30] The device sent to CNN was adorned with a meme parody ISIL flag with the inscription "Get 'Er Done"[31], a catchphrase of standup comedian Larry the Cable Guy.[32] A law enforcement official told reporters that the devices sent to Clinton and Obama were similar in design to the one that was sent to Soros.[33] John Miller, the New York City Police Department's Head of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, stated that all the confirmed bombs appeared to come from the same person or persons.[34]

According to The New York Times, the device sent to George Soros's house was constructed from a length of pipe about six inches (150 mm) long filled with explosive powder, and was proactively detonated by bomb squad technicians.[35] Authorities reported that the devices recovered October 24 were packed with shards of glass.[13] According to the Associated Press, a law enforcement official says tests have determined that the powder found inside an envelope delivered to CNN along with a pipe bomb was harmless.[36] The bombs also contained pyrotechnic powder but lacked a triggering mechanism, yet the FBI is calling them "potentially destructive devices".[37] Law enforcement officials told Associated Press the devices contained batteries and timers but were not rigged to explode when they opened.[38]

The envelopes were labeled with the return address of the office of Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Sunrise, Florida. All contained the same spelling errors (Schultz was misspelled "Shultz" and Florida was misspelled "Florids").[8] All of the packages were sent in yellow manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap and given a printed label and six Forever stamps.[35] Photographs of the package delivered to the CNN mail room were posted to Twitter by Jim Sciutto and Jim Acosta.[19][39]

Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the mailing of the devices and the intent of the sender.[8]

Several of the mail bombs were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for inspection.[2]

Images of envelopes taken by the U.S. Postal Service's Mail Isolation Control and Tracking system have been examined as part of the investigation.[2]

On October 26, federal agents reviewed security footage from a U.S. Postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida, along with bomb squad members and a canine unit.[40] Later that day an arrest was made in South Florida of a man in connection with the slew of the mailed explosive devices. The man reportedly has a criminal history.[41]

Reactions

Political

'President Trump Condemns Mailing of Explosive Devices to Democrats'. From a speech made at the White House on October 24. Video from Voice of America.

Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton both thanked the Secret Service for intercepting the package; Hillary Clinton said "Every day we are grateful for their commitment, and obviously never more than today, but it is a troubling time isn't it? And its a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together."[42] John Brennan pointed directly to Trump's rhetoric, saying that Trump "fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into potential acts of violence... Unfortunately, I think Donald Trump, too often, has helped to incite some of these feelings of anger, if not violence, when he points to acts of violence or also talks about, you know, swinging at somebody from the press or the media."[42]

Several sources pointed out that some of the targets of the mailings, such as Clinton and Waters, are people that Trump routinely attacks at his campaign rallies – his "favorite punching bags".[43][44] New York Mayor Bill de Blasio described the packages as "an act of terror" and stated that all politicians must stop encouraging attacks on media.[45] Joe Biden said of the attempts, "we’ve got to turn off this hate machine."[46] U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz responded saying, "We will not be intimidated by this attempted act of violence. "This appalling attack on our democracy must be vigorously prosecuted, and I am deeply disturbed by the way my name was used."[47] U.S. Representative Maxine Waters said, "I don’t know whether the bombs are real or not, but we should not crawl under the bed, close the doors, not go out, be afraid to go to rallies. We have to keep to doing what we’re doing in order to make this country right; that’s what I intend to do, and as the young people say, I ain’t scared."[48]

Trump held a midterm campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on October 24, during the height of the incident. He said of the bombings:

My highest duty, as you know, as President, is to keep America safe. That's what we talk about. That's what we do. The federal government is conducting an aggressive investigation and we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice. Hopefully very quickly. Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy, itself. No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation, coercion, or control. We all know that. Such conduct must be fiercely opposed and firmly prosecuted. We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony. We can do it. We can do it. We can do it. It will happen.[49]

The next day, Trump claimed on Twitter that the mainstream media were largely responsible for anger present in American society.[50] His comments were echoed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said that Trump had urged the public to come together and had sent a very clear, strong unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence had no standing in the U.S. Sanders then attacked statements by the CNN President, claiming that he "chose to attack and divide".[51]

Media

CNN President Jeff Zucker said about the mailings, "There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that."[52]

Conservative commentators such as Kurt Schlicter and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones quickly issued social media posts and articles through Infowars, to assert their belief that the incidents were false flags and a "super convenient turn of events" and a potential "political stunt". Many of the comments were quickly deleted as more information was received about the case.[53] Others, such as commentator Rush Limbaugh, protested the idea that Republicans were behind the packages, claiming that "Republicans just don't do this kind of thing. Even though every event, like mass shootings, remember, every mass shooting there is, the Democrats in the media try to make everybody think right off the bat that some tea partier did it, or some talk radio fan did it, or some Fox News viewer did it. Turns out, it's never, ever the case." Limbaugh instead raised unsubstantiated claims that the perpetrator might have been a "Democrat operative...attempting to create the appearance that there are mobs everywhere."[54]

See also

References

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