Ten pipe bombs, none of which exploded, were mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to high-profile Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump.
The federal investigation is focusing on leads in Florida, and investigators believe the devices were built from a design that is available on the internet.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the suspicious packages had a return address of the Florida office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chair.
The instructions for such explosive devices are widely available on websites and in propaganda distributed by militant groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, said the second law enforcement official and a former federal government bomb expert.
The packages, which are all similar in appearance and contain potentially destructive devices, are being sent for analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
Suspicious packages were received at multiple locations in or around New York, Washington, D.C., California, Delaware and Florida.
The packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior. The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps. All packages had a return address of “DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ” [sic] in Florida.
The FBI has confirmed that packages addressed to George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan in care of CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, actor Robert De Niro.
Two packages were addressed to each Rep. Maxine Waters and former Vice President Joseph Biden.
The package addressed to Holder did not reach its intended destination, but was rerouted to the return address in Florida.
The FBI is working with the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, to identify and arrest those responsible for sending the bombs.
It is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations. The FBI advises the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious or unknown packages.
Anyone with information about these packages is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
If you observe any suspicious activity that requires an immediate response, please call 911 or contact your local law enforcement.
The packages are being sent for analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.”
The bombs have raised the stakes in what already was a contentious campaign season ahead of the Nov. 6 elections in which Trump’s Republican allies hope to maintain majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.
The episode has also called attention to the reckless rhetoric Trump has unleashed against political rivals, critics and various ethnic or religious groups he has targeted in a .
Trump condemned the bombs but later blamed the media for the angry tone in American politics. He has previously labeled journalists ‘the enemy of the people’ and offered to pay legal expenses for followers who assault his critics.
No one has claimed responsibility and the FBI urged the public to report any tips.
The packages consisted of a manila envelope with a bubble-wrap interior containing “potentially destructive devices,” the FBI said. Each has a computer-printed address label and six “Forever” postage stamps.
Some of the packages sent to New York locations had envelopes of white powder in them, but FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said at a briefing in New York that initial analysis showed it was not a biological threat.
The pipe bombs were described as ‘crude devices’ by some security experts, who speculated the onjects may have been intended to create fear and alarm rather than to kill anyone, particularly since none of them detonated.
A criminal complaint was unsealed in Alexandria, Virginia, today charging a Russian national for her alleged role in a Russian conspiracy to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2018 midterm election.
Assistant Attorney General Demers said the government alleges that Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2018 midterm election.
Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering.
Prigozhin has ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and he is among 13 individuals and three corporations indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been a frequent target of Trump’s outlandish rhetoric.
“The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case demonstrates that federal law enforcement authorities will work aggressively to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of unlawful foreign influence activities, and that we will not stand by idly while foreign actors obstruct the lawful functions of our government. I want to thank the agents and prosecutors for their determined work on this case.”
“This case serves as a stark reminder to all Americans: Our foreign adversaries continue their efforts to interfere in our democracy by creating social and political division, spreading distrust in our political system, and advocating for the support or defeat of particular political candidates,” said Director Wray. “We take all threats to our democracy very seriously, and we’re committed to working with our partners to identify and stop these unlawful influence operations. Together, we must remain diligent and determined to protect our democratic institutions and maintain trust in our electoral process.”
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