Explosive devices sent to top US figures

Another suspected bomb was found in New York City on Thursday morning as a manhunt was underway for a serial bomber targeting high-profile Democrats and CNN, less than two weeks ahead of elections that could alter the US political landscape.
The bomb that was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan and delivered to CNN's New York offices, on Oct 24, 2018.
The bomb that was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan and delivered to CNN's New York offices, on Oct 24, 2018.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Manhunt on for suspected serial bomber; more packages may still be in circulation

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK • The discovery of at least nine packages sent by a suspected serial bomber to prominent figures, including Democrats and Trump critics, has put the US on edge, with a nationwide manhunt under way as law enforcement officials warned that more such packages may still be in circulation.

At least nine suspicious parcels were intercepted before reaching any intended recipients, including former US president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The packages addressed to Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton did not get close to their intended targets and neither of them contained a written message, but the twin discoveries led to the other undetonated devices being found elsewhere.

Law enforcement officials described the devices as pipes stuffed with explosive material and wrapped in electrical wire and tape, but they provided no detail on how they would have been detonated.

As more devices were discovered, a disturbing pattern emerged - the known recipients of the bombs are all frequent targets of conservative politicians, including US President Donald Trump.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump decried the bombs and pledged that the federal government would bring those responsible to justice.

He said: "In these times, we have to unite. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong and unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the US."

Yesterday, he blamed the media for "a big part" of society's anger as the authorities removed a suspected mail bomb sent to actor Robert De Niro, who had hurled an obscenity at Mr Trump in June.

At least two of the devices appeared to have been delivered by hand, according to law enforcement officials.

The first such package was discovered on Monday at the New York home of Mr George Soros, a billionaire activist. The devices have been sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) lab in Quantico, Virginia, for further analysis.

 
 
 

A suspicious package addressed to former vice-president Joe Biden was found at a mail facility in New Castle County in Delaware.

"The packages are similar in appearance" and "contain potentially destructive devices", said the FBI in a statement, warning that "it is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations". It also advised the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious or unknown packages.

The FBI described the packages as manila envelopes with bubble wrap inside. Each package had computer-printed address labels.

Officials said the packages used the office of Ms Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chaired the Democratic National Committee during part of the 2016 campaign, as a return address. One such package used an incorrect address for former attorney-general Eric Holder Jr, and it was "returned" to her office in Sunrise, Florida, where it was intercepted, according to officials.

New York Police Department Commissioner James O'Neill said the police also found what "appeared to be a live explosive device" at CNN, addressed to former Obama administration CIA director John Brennan.

WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline 'Explosive devices sent to top US figures'. Print Edition | Subscribe