Pipe Bombs Sent to Obama, Clinton and CNN N.Y. Headquarters

NYPD says explosive devices sent to CNN appear to be sent by same person who mailed pipe bombs to George Soros, Clinton and Obama ■ Trump: 'Acts or threats of political violence have no place in the U.S.'

Police gather outside the Time Warner Center after an explosive device was sent to the CNN offices this morning on October 24, 2018 in New York City.
AFP

Bombs and other suspicious packages targeting Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and CNN were intercepted Wednesday in a rash of attacks aimed at prominent Democrats and a cable news network often criticized by political conservatives.

At least eight suspicious parcels were intercepted before reaching any intended recipients, including Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and prominent Democratic Party donor George Soros. Two packages were sent to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the FBI said. Investigators were trying to track down another suspicious parcel they believe was addressed to Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, a federal official told Reuters late on Wednesday. 

There were no explosions and no reports of injuries.

The White House quickly condemned the attacks. "We cannot tolerate those cowardly attempts and I strongly condemn all who choose violence," U.S. President Donald Trump said. Trump added that "acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America" and that "the full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice." He said that "this egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear as Americans."

Vice President Mike Pence said such acts “have no place in this country.”

The first package, which turned up on Monday, was addressed to Soros, the billionaire financier and frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories. 

The parcel intended for Holder ended up rerouted to the return address printed on all the packages - the Florida office of U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

The FBI said late on Wednesday it had confirmed that two additional packages, similar in appearance to the others, were addressed to U.S. Representative Waters, a veteran Democratic congresswoman from Los Angeles and also an outspoken Trump critic. 

An earlier FBI statement said the other packages consisted of a manila envelope with a bubble-wrap interior containing "potentially destructive devices." Each bore a computer-printed address label and six "Forever" postage stamps. 

Other officials said the devices contained in the envelopes were all similar to one found in the mailbox of the Soros home and later detonated by police. At least one bomb was packed with shards of glass, one federal source said. 

The U.S. Secret Service intercepted packages addressed to Obama at his Washington home and to Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, at her home in New York state. 

The CNN bureau in New York received a package addressed to Brennan, who has appeared as an on-air CNN analyst, leading police to evacuate the Time Warner building in a busy Manhattan neighborhood near Central Park. It contained an envelope of white powder that experts were analyzing, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. 

The package to Clinton was found late on Tuesday while the one addressed to Obama was recovered early on Wednesday, both during routine off-site mail screenings, the Secret Service said. Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they said. 

"So far the devices have been what appeared to be pipe bombs," John Miller, the New York City police deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told a news conference. 

An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies "will continue to work to identity and arrest whosoever is responsible for sending these packages," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. 

'Climate of fear'

Soros, the Jewish billionaire and liberal philanthropist, was not present at his residential compound where a device was found on Monday. The device "had the components" of an actual bomb, including explosive powder, a law enforcement official said.

Investigators have not named any suspects or disclosed a possible motive, but Soros has become a hated figure among some right-wing activists in the United States and Eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.

An employee at the home in Katonah, an upscale hamlet about 66 kilometers (41 miles) north of New York City, opened a package at around 3:45 P.M. local time on Monday and found what appeared to be an explosive device, the Bedford Police Department said.

Bomb squad technicians detonated it in a nearby wooded area, police said.

There was no warning of a possible threat to Soros, and there was no continuing threat to Soros or the public, a law enforcement official said. The FBI's New York field office did not respond to a request for comment.

Soros has donated billions of dollars to his Open Society Foundations, a grant-making organization that funds civil society groups around the world. It has clashed with Hungary's government over its restrictions on immigration and asylum seekers.

"In this climate of fear, falsehoods and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats," Open Society Foundations said in a statement. "George Soros deplores violence of any kind, and urges politicians across the political spectrum to tone down their rhetoric."

U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, said earlier this month, without citing evidence, that Soros had paid protesters who confronted senators at hearings for Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Open Society Foundations has denied the claim.