Here's everything we know after studying the mail bomb packages

As the FBI and US law enforcement agencies turn to catching the serial mailbomber, or mailbombers, terrorizi...

Posted: Oct 26, 2018 6:39 PM
Updated: Oct 26, 2018 6:39 PM

As the FBI and US law enforcement agencies turn to catching the serial mailbomber, or mailbombers, terrorizing those who have been labeled by President Donald Trump as political enemies, it's interesting to follow in their steps and examine what we know about the now 12 packages that have been intercepted.

All those we have seen were all in manila envelopes, for instance, with the same return address. They all had six forever stamps, which was enough to get some to mail sorting facilities, but another needed more postage. They all had the same return address, with a misspelled name for Debbie Wasserman "Shultz," not Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida who is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Florida was misspelled as "Florids."

2018 Political package bombs

Barack Obama

Bomb threats

Bombs and explosive devices

Business and industry sectors

Business figures

Business, economy and trade

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Domestic terrorism

Eric Holder

Freight transportation

George Soros

Hillary Clinton

International relations and national security

Joe Biden

John Brennan

Maxine Waters

National security

Political Figures - US

Postal services


Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Transportation and warehousing

Unrest, conflicts and war

Weapons and arms

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US


US Congress

US House of Representatives

Law enforcement

Continents and regions

Federal Bureau of Investigation


Government bodies and offices

North America

Southeastern United States

The Americas

United States

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

Donald Trump

James Clapper

New York (State)

New York City

Northeastern United States

There are images of six of the packages, one of which was shared by both DC Police and the FBI on social media.

Related: The manhunt - FBI treating serial bomber as domestic terrorism

Where did they come from?

CNN reported Thursday that multiple law enforcement sources said all the packages went through the US mail system and authorities believe several of the packages went through the Opa-locka, Florida, processing and distribution center, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation.

The lack of a postmark on most of the packages complicates all of this and could suggest the packages came from multiple places. It does appear there is some kind of postmark on the package directed to President Barack Obama.

How were they sent?

Sent to a home: Five (George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Biden, Barack Obama)

Sent to an office: Four (John Brennan at CNN, Robert De Niro, Maxine Waters, Maxine Waters)

Not known where it was sent: One (Eric Holder which ended up at Wasserman Schultz's office)

Delivered: Three (Soros, Brennan at CNN, De Niro)

Intercepted at postal facility: Six (Waters, Waters, Biden, Biden, Clinton, Obama)

Returned to sender: One (Holder at Wasserman Schultz office)

About the postage

Six forever stamps was enough to get the De Niro package delivered, if it was delivered by the postal service. And it was enough to get a number of other packages to a sorting facility. But in the case of one of the Biden packages, it was not enough. There is a note attached to the Biden package with a 375 over a 300 and a 75 underneath. Those numbers are next to words that appear to say "postage due."

A forever stamp is worth 50 cents. A first class large envelope is $1 for the first ounce and 21 cents for each additional ounce. That means the forever stamps on each envelope are worth $3.00, perhaps the "300" on the Biden package note. The USPS online shipping calculator suggests the package weighed 7 oz, $3.75, if charged as a large envelope or package, or 13 oz, $3.52 if charged as a letter.

Here's what we know about each package in the order in which the packages were reported.

First package - George Soros, Bedford, NY

First reports: Afternoon of October 23

The Soros package was destroyed by a bomb squad near his home. This is one of two packages to reach its destination. CNN has reported it is believed to have been placed in the mailbox.

There is an image of the Soros package, which shows his name and the rest of the address blurred.

DC Police shared an image of the package with all but the name of "Wasserman Shultz (sic)" blurred. The FBI also shared an image of a package on social media, photographed on grass, with all information blurred. This appears to be the Soros package because the tears on the envelope match exactly.

Second package - Hillary Clinton, Westchester County, NY

First reports: "Late" on October 23

The Secret Service reported the existence of this package to the public on October 24 at the same time as a package later discovered addressed to Obama. Clinton's home is in Chappaqua, but the Secret Service release simply said it was addressed to her in broader Westchester County, New York. The known image of the package shows that Clinton's first name is misspelled as "Hilary."

Third package - Barack Obama, Washington, DC

First reports: "Early" in the morning on October 24

The Secret Service statement about the Clinton and Obama packages was the first word that a serial mail bomber was on the loose. The former President's first name is misspelled "Barrack." Neither the Obama or Clinton packages made it to their destination, but the Secret Service said they were "intercepted during routine mail screening procedures." That suggests they were mailed. The Obama package is the only one that appears to have postal service markings on it.

Fourth package - John Brennan, c/o CNN, New York City

First reports: Mid-morning October 24

This was the most public package discovery because it was, essentially, broadcast live on TV, when an alarm went off during Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow's show on CNN. This is also the package for which there is the best image, both with the bomb out of the envelope and of the cover of the envelope. It is addressed to a misspelled John Brenan, who is the former CIA director and an on-air analyst at MSNBC and NBC.

Whoever sent the package knew enough to target Brennan, a figure who attracted enough ire from Trump that he revoked Brennan's security clearance, but not how to (or chose not to) spell his name correctly or the network at which he works. Images of the bomb inside the package show it to be decorated with a picture, apparently of Brennan, as well as some other markings, which some have speculated to be a spoof of an ISIS flag.

Fifth package - Eric Holder at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office, Sunshine, Florida

First reports: Mid-morning October 24

This package was first reported when the building housing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Florida office was evacuated. Schultz was actually scheduled to appear with Clinton at an event with House candidate Donna Shalala that day. It turned out the Holder package, of which we have not specifically seen an image, was returned to sender at the Wasserman Schultz office. That doesn't mean someone from the Wasserman Schultz office sent it, but rather that the postal service tried and failed to send the Holder package and returned it to her office. Does that mean it was sent before the other packages? It's not clear how the bomber listed the original Holder address. This is one of at least two packages with bad addresses.

Sixth package - Maxine Waters on Capitol Hill

First reports: Afternoon of October 24

Although sent to the California congresswoman's office on Capitol Hill, it was intercepted at the mail sorting facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

Seventh package - Maxine Waters, Los Angeles

First reported: Night of October 24

A second package to Waters was intercepted in Los Angeles. There are no known images. She and Biden are the only people who are known to be the target of two packages.

Eighth package - Robert De Niro, New York City

First reports: Morning of October 25

The package was received in the mailroom of the building housing De Niro's production facility and a retired police officer working at the building discovered it. He didn't realize it was connected to the mail bomber until later and left it in his office on the seventh floor. There are images of the De Niro packages, and it appears that the address label for De Niro is formatted differently than other packages. His address is indented.

Ninth and Tenth packages - Joe Biden, Wilmington, Delaware

First reports: Morning of October 25

Sent to different addresses, but both with Biden's name, the packages were intercepted at mail facilities in and near Wilmington. The address, unlike some of the others, includes Biden's middle name, Robinette.

Eleventh package - Cory Booker, New Jersey, found in Florida

First reports: Morning of October 26

Discovered Thursday at a postal facility in Florida, there is not yet a public image of the package. The FBI confirmed on its Twitter account Friday morning that a similar package to the others had been intercepted in Florida, although it is not clear where, and that it had been addressed to Booker, although it's not clear where it was supposed to be delivered.

Twelfth package - James Clapper at CNN, found in New York City

First reports: Morning of October 26

Discovered Friday morning at a mail facility in New York, the package was addressed to frequent Trump critic and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who is a CNN contributor. Like the Brennan package, Clapper's was addressed to the former intelligence official at CNN's bureau in Time Warner Center. Unlike Brennan's address, the Clapper address contains no misspellings and like Biden's, it includes his middle name, Robert.

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