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Man suspected of sending parcel bombs to critics of US President Donald Trump identified as Cesar Sayoc

Federal agents have arrested a suspect in connection with at least 14 suspicious packages and mail bombs sent to top Democrats and liberal critics of President Donald Trump, an official confirmed Friday.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2018 07:34 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan TImes, Washington
US pipe bombs,US mail bombs,bomb suspect
Federal agents have arrested a suspect in connection with at least 12 suspicious packages and mail bombs sent to top Democrats and liberal critics of President Donald Trump, an official confirmed Friday.(Baltimore Sun/Representative Image )

A man was taken into custody in Florida on Friday in connection with the mailing of 14 explosives, including two new ones intercepted earlier in the day, to leading critics of US president Donald Trump, who, in turn, had attacked them viciously and frequently.

“I am pleased to inform you that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect and taken him into custody,” the president said as he announced the arrest, calling the mailing of the explosives as “terrorizing acts (that) are despicable and have no place in our country.”

The suspect was identified as Cesar Sayoc, Jr., a 56-year-old resident of Aventura, Florida, in media reports. He was arrested from outside his workplace in city called Plantation in the same state. FBI agents were seen covering a van with blue tarp in news footage from a location in Florida, which was then driven away aboard a carrier.

DNA prints from the packages and Sayoc’s cellphone were reported to have played a role in his arrest. He had been under surveillance for the past 24 hours.

The US justice department will announce details at a news conference.

The intended recipients of the packages discovered Friday were Democratic senator Cory Booker and former director of national intelligence James Clapper. They fit the pattern that has emerged thus far. They are both strident critics of the president and also frequent target of his attacks. Booker is also said to be considering a run for the White House in 2020 against Trump if he wins the Democratic primaries.

President Trump had condemned these intended attacks and called for unity, but also attacked his opponents, critics and media for holding him responsible for the bitterly divisive political climate in the country that may have motivated those behind the packages, that started arriving last Monday.

On Friday, he complained the “bombs” were a distraction. “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!” he tweeted.

The package for Booker was found at a mailing facility in Florida, intercepted before it shipped. And the one meant for Clapper was found at a mailing facility in New York, and was addressed to CNN’s offices — the ex-DNI appears frequently on the news network as an expert on national security.

The total of these packages had gone up to 14.

The packages started being noticed on Monday, with the first gong to George Soros, a billionaire supporter of the Democratic party. Similar packages meant for former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton were intercepted the day after, and then the rest followed

There have been no injuries or damages. Each package is contained in a mania envelope, with bubble-wrap lining in the inside. The explosive devices are pipe bombs that have been described as rudimentary but functional and the FBI has warned people against touching or moving it around.

The package meant for Booker, a senator from New Jersey, was discovered at a mailing facility in Florida Thursday night. The FBI confirmed it on Friday and said it was “similar in appearance” to all of the previous ones. As was the one sent to DNI Clappers, care-of CNN.

This is the second package addressed to CNN. The first was meant for former CIA director John Brennan and was found at the network’s Manhattan offices on Tuesday. His name was misspelt and though he may have appeared on CNN, he is a contributor at MSNBC, a rival TV news broadcaster.

The package meant for Clapper was intercepted at an off-site clearing facility that the network has set up since, to prevent all mail from making it unscreened to the building, which has been evacuated completely, forcing the network and its news anchors to stay on air from the sidewalk a short distance away.

First Published: Oct 26, 2018 20:49 IST