US Democrats Senator Cory Booker was sent a suspicious package. Picture: AP
US Democrats Senator Cory Booker was sent a suspicious package. Picture: AP

Pipe bomb suspect arrested

A FLORIDA man in his 50s has been arrested in connection to a series of mail bombs sent this week.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, from Aventura, Florida, was arrested 32 kilometres away from his home at a business in Plantation.

Cesar Sayoc has been arrested suspected of being the MAGAbomber
Cesar Sayoc has been arrested suspected of being the MAGAbomber

Officials said he has a long criminal history and used to live in Fort Lauderdale, as well as another past address in New Jersey.

Reports indicate that the man is suspected of sending explosive devices to key critics of US President Donald Trump

This frame grab from video provided by WPLG-TV shows a van parked in Plantation, Florida.  The van, which has several stickers on the windows, including American flags, was covered by a tarp as it travelled to an unknown location.  Picture:  AP
This frame grab from video provided by WPLG-TV shows a van parked in Plantation, Florida. The van, which has several stickers on the windows, including American flags, was covered by a tarp as it travelled to an unknown location. Picture: AP

After he was arrested, a van covered in pro-Trump bumper stickers was covered with a tarpaulin and taken to an FBI facility in Florida.

It included slogans like "drain the swamp" and "CNN sucks", as well as images of Hillary Clinton with a target on her face.

His tweets also accuse George Soros, one of the bomb targets, of paying off a victim of the Parkland mass shooting.

Cesar Sayoc has been arrested suspected of being the MAGAbomber.  Picture:  Supplied
Cesar Sayoc has been arrested suspected of being the MAGAbomber. Picture: Supplied

He is believed to be Native American, and according to a picture posted on social media, he is a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Sayoc appears to be a former bodybuilder and worked in a strip club.

He had a series of criminal convictions, including for fraud, theft and drug charges, and most notably, a 2002 arrest for threatening to throw a bomb in a conversation with a Florida utility representative.

Ronald Lowy, a Miami lawyer who represented him said Sayoc "made a verbal threat when he was frustrated at a lack of service."

Mr Lowy said Sayoc showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with bomb-making expertise and served a year's probation.

Mr Lowy said he displayed no political leanings except for plastering a vehicle he owned with Native American signs.

Cesar Sayoc's Facebook account before it was taken down.  Picture:  Facebook
Cesar Sayoc's Facebook account before it was taken down. Picture: Facebook

He did say that Sayoc "wasn't always in his right mind" and "wanted to look younger," so he had his date of birth altered.

Sayoc filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012. His name is also listed on business records tied to dry cleaning and catering businesses.

He registered as a Republican in Florida in 2016.

He has expressed his dislike of Hillary Clinton and posted stories about incidents of Islamic terrorism on his social media account, including disturbing images of dead bodies.

His Facebook account showed that he had more than 2500 "friends" but it was quickly taken down after he was arrested.

Mr Trump said that the so-called MAGAbomber would be prosecuted to "fullest extent of the law".

FBI agents cover a van parked in Plantation, Florida.  Picture:  AP
FBI agents cover a van parked in Plantation, Florida. Picture: AP

He gave his strongest comments on the serial bomber to date, saying "these terrorising acts are despicable."

"We must never allow political violence to take root in America," he said. "The bottom line is Americans must unify and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens."

It was a very different tone from the US President who just hours earlier tweeted that "this bomb stuff" is seriously hurting Republicans.

It comes as four new suspicious packages were discovered, one addressed to Democrat Senator Cory Booker, and also former head of national intelligence, James Clapper.

Then, hours later, another two packages were sent to Democratic Senator Kamala Harris and California billionaire Tom Steyer, a key Democrat donor.

The package to New Jersey Senator Booker was found in Florida, while another package was sent to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper care of CNN.

The four new packages are similar to the 10 packages sent earlier this week to the Clintons, the Obamas, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro, former CIA Director John Brennan (also care of CNN where he is a contributor), former Attorney-General Eric Holder, Democrat Maxine Waters and liberal philanthropist George Soros.

All packages had a return address of Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, in Florida.

Double Oscar winner and biting Trump critic De Niro urged people to vote the midterms, one day after a device was discovered at the Manhattan offices of his production company.

"I thank God no one's been hurt, and I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us," he said. "There's something more powerful than bombs, and that's your vote. People MUST vote!"

"This is definitely domestic terrorism," Mr Clapper told CNN, hitting out at Trump saying he bore "some responsibility of civility in this country. He needs to remember that his words count."

The packages were sent in manila envelopes with bubble wrap, marked with computer-printed address labels.

Ms Wasserman Schultz, who was listed as the sender, including misspellings of her last name, told reporters in southern Florida that it had "devastating" and "deeply disturbing" to have had her name used.

"I've been told by the FBI that this is their highest priority and they're on top of it," she said.

NYPD's Total Containment vessel arrives as law enforcement respond to the scene of a suspicious package at a postal facility in Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York.  Picture:  AP
NYPD's Total Containment vessel arrives as law enforcement respond to the scene of a suspicious package at a postal facility in Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York. Picture: AP

Senator Booker, seen as a potential candidate for the 2020 presidential election, is among politicians, other public figures and TV news network CNN to have been singled out in the campaign.

Mr Clapper is among a number of former intelligence chiefs who have been harsh critics of Mr Trump since he took office, and have been threatened with having their security clearances revoked.

Packages have been intercepted in New York, Maryland, Florida, Delaware and Los Angeles.

So far, no one has been hurt, but the attempted bomb-spree has frayed nerves and raised tensions ahead of key mid-term elections in less than two weeks.


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