By Prarthana Mitra
In rapid and steady succession, several noted liberal figures and media organisations of the United States became unwitting targets of bomb threats on Wednesday.
A few days after authorities found a suspicious package addressed to top Democrats Hillary and Bill Clinton at their residence earlier this week, “pipe bombs” intended for former president Barack Obama and left-leaning billionaire investor George Soros were intercepted, in what is being suspected as a connected series of incidents.
This was followed by several such reports on Wednesday, by high-ranking politicians including New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who described the contents of his package as a “device”, Florida Democratic Representative Eric Holder and California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, which put the law enforcement and administration on high-alert.
Here’s what happened
Over the course of the day, at least two media organisations also came under threat, including CNN which evacuated its New York bureau at the Time Warner Center after a suspicious package was unearthed in the mail room. It was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan. The San Diego Union-Tribune also allegedly evacuated its building after “suspicious looking packages” were spotted outside. Similar packages were also reported by former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrat Kamala Harris.
Fortunately enough, all the packages were intercepted by congressional mail screening facilities before they reached their intended targets. The package intended for Obama was intercepted in Washington, DC, and the one intended for Clinton was addressed to her in Chappaqua residence in Westchester County, New York, on Tuesday, authorities said.
What Trump said
Asserting that there is no place for political violence in the US, president Donald Trump announced later on Thursday that a major federal investigation is underway. After a briefing with the FBI, Department of Justice, Homeland Security Department and Secret Service, he told the press that top explosive experts are reportedly involved in examining the packages and no resources will be spared until the culprit is apprehended.
What did the packages contain?
A preliminary report claims that the devices look similar in their configuration and construction, were amateurish but quite functional and one of them contained projectiles in the form of shards of glass, while traces of explosive sulphur were also discovered.
The packages had Democratic Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s Florida office as the return address and came in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior, the FBI said in a statement Wednesday. Some of the packages were inherently unstable and could have detonated by mere mishandling, officials confirmed, moving this case up to highest priority.
Blaming Trump’s rhetoric
However, many argue that Trump’s rhetoric is to blame for these attempts on the lives of current and former high ranking government officials, right before the mid-terms. Trump has given innumerable incendiary speeches against his political opponents, calling them “evil” with any chance he gets, and asking his allies to “lock” Hillary up.
“This clearly is an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an afternoon news conference.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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