The FBI has released details about the “suspicious devices” sent to several prominent leftists and Democrats earlier this week, including X-ray photos that show what appear to be operational “pipe bombs” that “had the potential to maim or kill,” but may have been designed to be discovered rather than explode.
ABC News obtained exclusive photos of the suspicious devices, which showed that “each device contained a digital clock, explosive powder, a battery power source and wiring to channel a spark for detonation.”
None of the components, though, the FBI says, were difficult to obtain — the digital clocks and power sources were similar to items available on Amazon — but the bombs were, in fact, dangerous. All of the packages contained a “sulfur substance” which “could have exploded,” CNN reports. Pipe bombs, experts added, are “inherently unstable” and could have gone off during any part of the handling process, without an independent, timed detonator.
The bombs were also designed to inflict maximum damage if they did explode. One report, from the Associated Press, adds that the bombs were “packed with powder and shards of glass.”
That reinforces earlier reporting, which indicated that the bombs were “workable.”
One thing about the alleged pipe bombs wasn’t “workable,” however: a “white powder” packaged alongside the suspicious device mailed to each prominent leftist, but separate from the device itself. That powder, suspected to be ricin or another poisonous substance, was found by law enforcement officials to be “harmless,” according to the AP.
An expert and former FBI profiler spoke to ABC News about the bombs, noting that it’s possible the person who sent them did not expect them to explode but, rather, expected the devices to be found — a result the bomber may have believed would incite panic.
“If they’re intentionally designed not to explode but to create fear and panic, then we can possibly expect to see an escalation if there’s another batch of bombs that come out. This suggests to me that this is someone that really planned this out quite well, so we should not assume that mistakes that we see in the posting of the packages are a mistake but may be done purposefully. There’s also an arrogance about these bombings,” the expert said.
So far, investigators appear to be operating under the theory that the suspicious devices originated from a single location, and that either an individual or group of individuals was responsible for sending the “similar” packages. All of the suspicious devices were mailed in similar manila envelopes, all were addressed with similar labels (including a return address label that led back to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Florida office), and the pipe bombs were made from similar components.
Two of the devices — the one sent to Democratic mega-donor George Soros, and the one destined for former
CIA director John Brennan — were hand delivered, possibly by a courier service. The others, sent to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and actor Robert De Niro, were sent through the United States Postal Service.
The latest reports indicate that investigators are focusing on evidence suggesting the packages were mailed in Florida, though its likely the FBI, ATF, and local law enforcement branches are pursuing a number of leads.