Suspicious packages target Obama, Clintons

Police intercepted suspected bombs mailed to former US President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other high-profile Democrats, in what New York officials described on Wednesday as an act of terrorism.
The New York Police Department bomb squad was deployed at the Time Warner Centre in Manhattan yesterday after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN headquarters in New York. The news network evacuated its offices. The incident comes on the he
The New York Police Department bomb squad was deployed at the Time Warner Centre in Manhattan yesterday after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN headquarters in New York. The news network evacuated its offices. The incident comes on the heels of three others targeting high-profile Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and billionaire George Soros.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Suspicious packages, identified as potential explosives, addressed to former president Barack Obama and defeated presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have been intercepted by the Secret Service, officials have said.

The Secret Service said it recovered a single package addressed to Mrs Clinton in Westchester, a suburb north of Manhattan on Tuesday, and a second package addressed to the Obama residence in Washington yesterday.

Both Democrats remain two of the most high-profile political figures in the US, which goes to the polls on Nov 6 in key midterm elections seen as a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump.

The White House swiftly condemned what it called "despicable" acts targeting the two Democrat luminaries.

"The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such," the Secret Service said in a statement.

"The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them."

Moments later, US news network CNN said it had evacuated its New York bureau at the Time Warner Centre in the financial capital over another suspicious package.

 
 
 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio later condemned the "effort to terrorise" after police found what appeared to be a live explosive device and an envelope containing white powder sent to CNN.

New York police chief James O'Neill said that the bomb squad removed the device and that there were no additional threats.

The Secret Service, which provides protection to current and former US presidents and their families - Mrs Clinton is the wife of former president Bill Clinton - said it had initiated a "full-scope criminal investigation". The Federal Bureau of Investigation's field office in New York said it was "aware" of a suspicious package found in the vicinity of Mrs Clinton's home in Chappaqua and that its Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating.

Two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the devices sent to Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama are suspected to be the work of the same person who sent a similar device to US billionaire George Soros.

The explosive device was found on Monday in the mailbox at the New York home of the liberal donor, who is a target of right-wing groups. It was later defused by bomb-squad technicians.

Mr Soros, an 88-year-old hedge fund tycoon, is one of the world's richest men, with an estimated net worth of US$8.3 billion (S$11.5 billion). The philanthropist became a hate figure for right-wing groups after supporting Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump's rival, in the 2016 US presidential election.

Based on the timing and the material, law enforcement officials suspect the same person is behind all three devices, and officials are scrambling to determine if any such devices were sent to anyone else.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'Suspicious packages target Obama, Clintons'. Print Edition | Subscribe