A device resembling a pipe bomb and loaded with black powder was found outside the suburban New York home of George Soros, the billionaire liberal philanthropist who is a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. The 88-year-old Hungarian-American businessman was not at home at the time and no one was injured in the incident.
As per a report from The New York Times, the device was “proactively detonated” by bomb squad technicians, according to one of the officials, all of whom were briefed on the investigation. The motive of the would-be bomber or bombers remains unclear, one of the officials said, adding that there had not yet been any claim of responsibility.
The Bedford Police Department said it responded to the address in the hamlet of Katonah at 3.45 pm on Monday after an employee of the residence opened the package. The person placed the package in a wooded area and called the police, who alerted the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Bedford Police said the FBI's terrorism task force was investigating the incident. The FBI's New York field office said on Twitter, "We are conducting an investigation at and around a residence in Bedford, NY. There is no threat to public safety, and we have no further comment at this time."
FBI officials did not respond to requests for more information late Monday.
Shortly after the incident, Soros' Open Society Foundations released a statement on Soros' behalf on Facebook.
Who is George Soros?
Soros, whose family is Jewish and survived Nazi-occupied Hungary, emigrated to the US and went on to become one of the country's most successful investors. The businessman, who made his fortune in hedge funds, frequently donates to liberal causes and is vilified by the Right.
He previously backed the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and labelled US President Donald Trump "an imposter", according to a BBC News report.
Earlier this month, Soros was accused by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz of funding a caravan of migrants moving north toward Mexico.
Gaetz on his Twitter account said:
BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN — Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 17, 2018
There is no evidence that Soros paid thousands of migrants to storm the border.
Soros has also been the target of anti-Semitic smears, including being falsely accused of being a Nazi collaborator during World War II, when he was a child in Hungary, The Telegraph reported.
Activists frequently post the addresses of homes he owns in Westchester County, north of New York City, on social media sometimes along with threats. "Soros is seen as the boogeyman on just about every right-wing conspiracy theory floating out there," JJ MacNab, a domestic extremism expert at George Washington University, told The Telegraph.
Roseanne Barr previously called Soros a Nazi in an infamous series of tweets.
Soros became a major political donor in the United States during George W Bush’s presidency, The New York Times reported. He spent millions backing John Kerry’s unsuccessful bid to deny Bush a second term, was an early backer of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and contributed more than $25 million to Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates and causes during the 2016 election cycle.
With inputs from The Associated Press
Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 15:29:22 IST