'Act of terror': 5 bombs mailed to Clintons, Obamas, CNN and others Trump rails against; New York ramps up police presence across city

Before noon on Wednesday in the US East Coast, at least 5 packages containing 'functional explosive devices' were stopped before they reached Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, the CNN offices in Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York mayor Andrew Cuomo and former Attorney General Eric Holder. "This is an act of terror", said New York City mayor Bill De Blasio and linked the toxic political environment to the way things are unfolding in the run-up to the midterm elections. CNN's New York bureau was evacuated by 10:15 am Wednesday and staff is still out on the streets near Columbus Circle.

 Act of terror: 5 bombs mailed to Clintons, Obamas, CNN and others Trump rails against; New York ramps up police presence across city

Law enforcement officers on location outside Barack Obama's office in Washington DC. AP

By early afternoon, there are initial reports of at least one more suspicious package addressed to the US Congress.

"We have not completed the investigation but the suggestion here is that all this is happening because of the rhetoric and the anger. We are at boiling point", New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.

All of the bombs intercepted today, incidentally, have been addressed to Donald Trump critics. "As an investigator, this is a lead we would go after. It's a clear pattern and it jumps right out at you", says a formed FBI staffer.

NYPD's chief of counterterrorism says the explosive device sent to CNN's headquarters in New York appeared to be sent by the same person who mailed pipe bombs to George Soros, Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama. In all of the packages, the pattern of the addresses have similarities in the less than precise nature of the detailing.

FBI officials said at a news conference the devices all appeared to be crude pipe bombs. The New York device was black and had wires. NYPD says it all began Monday night with a package sent to Soros and that it's looking at the devices as a pattern, and no arrests have been made. Within the CNN package was also a "white powder". No further details are forthcoming about this powder at this time.

The investigation into the suspicious packages is being led by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI and NYPD. There were no explosions and no reports of injuries. The entire NYPD briefing is in this tweet below:

The bombs were intercepted two weeks before nationwide elections that could reshape Congress and serve as a referendum on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. The events quickly overtook other campaign news in an already-tense political season, which has included pitched fights over immigration, the Supreme Court and sexual violence against women.

The White House quickly condemned the attacks aimed at Democrats and perceived foes of the administration. Republican Vice President Mike Pence said they "have no place in this country," and Trump tweeted, "I agree wholeheartedly."

All the confirmed bombs appeared to come from the same person or persons, said John Miller, the New York Police Department's head of intelligence and counterterrorism, who briefed reporters in New York.

The U.S. Secret Service intercepted a bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton at the Chappaqua, New York, home she shares with former President Bill Clinton, and another that was sent to former President Obama at his home with Michelle Obama in Washington. A police bomb squad removed still another from CNN's New York headquarters, which was evacuated.

Overhead TV shots showed a truck carrying that device, which law enforcement officials said was linked to the other explosives, being driven away. The package sent to CNN contained a live explosive and envelope with white powder, and officials said the substance was being tested to see if it was dangerous.
New York Gov. Cuomo said at a briefing that "we will not allow these terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives."

The official noted that one of the packages had the return address of Florida Rep. Schultz, an ironic reference to the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party's eventual presidential nominee.

Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages, and neither was at risk of receiving them because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Two law enforcement officials, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the pipe bomb at CNN was crude but operational and was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who regularly appears as a television contributor and who has publicly clashed with Trump. They said it was similar to other explosives discovered in the past few days.

Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday and was not at the family's New York residence at the time. Bill Clinton was at the family's Chappaqua home at the time the package was intercepted Tuesday night at a Westchester County facility, said a person familiar with his schedule. The person said the device was screened at the facility — not in proximity to their residence — and never reached the Clintons' home.

A law enforcement official told the AP that the package discovered at Soros' home appeared to be a pipe bomb and was in a package placed in a mailbox outside the gates of the compound. A Soros employee opened it just inside the gates, not near Soros' quarters, the official said.

Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 01:44:48 IST