US mail bombs: Cesar Sayoc charged after campaign against Trump
[October 27 2018]
A 56-year-old man has been arrested in Florida in
connection with a mail-bombing campaign aimed at critics of US President
US officials named the man as Cesar Sayoc. He faces
five charges including mailing explosives and threatening ex-presidents.
Mr Trump said the acts were "despicable and have no
place in our country".
Fourteen items have been sent in recent days to
figures including ex-President Barack Obama and actor Robert de Niro.
Two were found in Florida and New York City on Friday
Later, two more were discovered in California.
Billionaire and Democrat donor Tom Steyer said that a package sent to
him had been intercepted at a mail facility in Burlingame, and another
addressed to Democrat Senator Kamala Harris was reported in Sacramento.
The incidents come less than two weeks before the US
mid-term elections, with politics highly polarised.
How did Mr Trump react?
The president praised law enforcement for the quick
arrest of the suspect, describing the search as looking for a "needle in
"These terrorising acts are despicable and have no
place in our country," he said.
The comments were in stark contrast to Mr Trump's
tweet earlier in the day, when he suggested the incidents, which he
described as "'Bomb' stuff", were slowing Republican "momentum" in early
But Mr Trump returned to the theme later, accusing US
media of exploiting the latest case, denying his rhetoric was to blame
for the bombings.
"The media's constant, unfair coverage, deep hostility
and negative attacks... only serve to drive people apart and to
undermine healthy debate," he said at a rally in North Carolina.
"We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours
to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points
against me and the Republican party."
US media reports suggest Mr Sayoc is a registered
Republican who attended some of Mr Trump's rallies in 2016 and 2017.
However, the president rejected any suggestion that his rhetoric had
contributed to the attacks.
"I heard he was a person that preferred me over
others. There's no blame, there's no anything," Mr Trump said.
Former intelligence chief James Clapper, one of the
recipients of Friday's packages, told CNN: "This is definitely domestic
terrorism, no question in my mind."
He said that anyone who had been a critic of President
Trump needed to be on the alert and take extra precautions.
"I'm not suggesting a direct cause-and-effect
relationship between anything he's said or done and the distribution of
these explosives. But I do think he bears some responsibility for the
coarseness of civility of the dialogue in this country," he added.
How Cesar Sayoc was caught?
He was at a vehicle parts shop in the city of
FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed that he was
detained after his fingerprint was allegedly found on one of the
Officials also said DNA and mobile phone data were
used to track the suspect down.
Cesar Sayoc was reportedly arrested at a shop in Plantation, Florida
The Department of Justice said he faced up to 48 years
"We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially
political violence," US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news
"Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their
political beliefs, that we will use the full force of the law against
What do we know about Cesar Sayoc?
Law enforcement agencies said Mr Sayoc lives in
In 2002, he was arrested for making a bomb threat in
Miami-Dade County, and received one year of probation for the charge.
Mr Sayoc has a criminal record dating back to 1991 in
Broward County, according to clerk records. He was arrested, aged 29, on
a theft charge. He has also faced charges of fraud and battery.
Court records show Mr Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in
2012 while he was living with his mother. A handwritten note in his
bankruptcy report reads: "Lives w/mom. Has no furniture."
The suspect's van displayed a collection of pro-Trump posters
In 1980, he spent three semesters as a student at
Brevard College in North Carolina, a university spokeswoman told BBC
News. He did not graduate, the spokeswoman added.
Following his arrest, US TV broadcast live images of a
white van, said to belong to Mr Sayoc, being loaded on to a trailer in
Plantation and towed away for examination.
The van's windows were covered in images. One piece of
artwork depicted President Trump standing on a tank and another showed
Hillary Clinton with a bullseye superimposed on her face.
Twitter and Facebook accounts in the name of Cesar
Altieri and Cesar Altieri Randazzo respectively, believed to be used by
the suspect, have been taken down.
How did the bomb threat unfold?
The series of bomb alerts began on Monday, when a
suspected device was found in the post box of billionaire businessman
George Soros, a major Democratic Party donor.
A total of 13 devices were sent to the following 11
individuals, according to the FBI.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former President Barack Obama
Former Vice-President Joe Biden (two devices)
Former CIA Director John Brennan, care of CNN
Former Attorney General Eric Holder
California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters (two
Robert De Niro
Democrat Senator Cory Booker
Former director of national intelligence James Clapper
Democrat Senator Kamala Harris
The package sent to Mr Steyer was not mentioned on the
complaint against Mr Sayoc.
None of the devices went off.
What was inside the packages?
FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said thorough
examinations of all the packages were under way at the FBI laboratory in
Quantico, Virginia, near Washington DC.
The package addressed to Mr Clapper was found in New
Several of the packages appear to have contained pipe
bombs, according to the FBI.
CNN quotes investigators as saying they were
functional but unstable, meaning they could be set off merely by
handling. They have timers easily bought at retail outlets.
But experts speaking to several US media outlets have
cast doubt on their effectiveness after seeing X-ray images.
New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill could not
confirm whether all the devices were intended to explode, but he said
officials "are treating them as suspected explosive devices".
Later FBI Director Wray said that, though they were
still being examined, "these are not hoax devices".
He said it was possible there were more undiscovered
Some of the packages included photos of the intended
targets with red Xs drawn through them, investigators said.
Past News 2018 >>