A series of pipe bombs and suspicious packages intercepted this week left the nation stunned and authorities hunting for a serial bomber who is targeting prominent Democratic figures and CNN.
Authorities intercepted all packages before they were delivered to their intended targets. None of the bombs detonated, and no one was injured.
Here’s a breakdown of everything we’ve learned all week:
How many packages have been mailed so far?
Authorities have intercepted at least 10 packages. They were mailed to:
Billionaire investor George Soros: One package, sent to his home in New York.
Bill and Hillary Clinton: One package mailed to their home in New York but intercepted by the Secret Service.
Barack Obama: One package mailed to Washington DC but intercepted by the Secret Service.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder: One package addressed to him but sent to the Florida office of Democratic lawmaker Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Democratic US Rep. Maxine Waters: Two suspicious packages: one intercepted at a congressional mail-screening facility in Maryland and a second one found at a postal facility in Los Angeles.
John Brennan: A “live explosive device” addressed to him and delivered by courier to CNN’s offices at the Time Warner Center in New York.
Former Vice President Joe Biden: Two packages found at post offices in Delaware.
Actor Robert De Niro: A suspicious package received at a nonresidential building in New York and addressed to him shows similarities to other pipe bomb packages.
Where did they originate from?
FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney would not confirm the origin of the packages Thursday despite reports that investigators believed some came from Florida.
Several of the packages went through a US Postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida, two law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said.
“Some were obviously in the postal system,” Sweeney said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department tweeted that its bomb squad and K-9 Unit are providing assistance to federal partners at the USPS Opa-locka mail facility.
“This assistance is as a precautionary measure,” it said. “We cannot provide additional information at this time due to the active nature of this federal investigation.”
Did the packages have any similarities?
The devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the top Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs, said Bryan Paarmann, FBI special agent in charge of the counterterrorism division in New York.
An initial examination shows they are rudimentary but functional, and have similar construction. At least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass, a law enforcement official told CNN.
The packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior, the FBI said, and each package had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelope. The devices had suspicious-looking packaging, and at least one had a timer that can be bought for a few dollars online and should be easily detected when mailed or delivered.
Were the pipe bombs designed to go off?
Authorities are wondering why none of the bombs went off, a law enforcement source told CNN’s Evan Perez. In a news release, the FBI called them “potentially destructive devices.”
The presence of what was believed to be pyrotechnic powder caused investigators to believe they could detonate, but it appeared the packages were handled and moved through the postal system without an explosion.
Based on X-ray image of one of the devices, there appeared to be hazardous materials present, Anthony May, a retired ATF explosives investigator, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. But it also appeared to be missing a crucial component for a functioning explosive device.
“What I’m not seeing is enough means to initiate this device, whether by design, whether by accident. I’m not seeing that,” he said. “If I’m going by design, (if) it was designed that way, then the individual’s motivation was simply to spread fear, instill fear.”
Where are the packages now?
The devices sent to Clinton, De Niro, Obama, the CNN offices and Waters’ East Coast office are either with the FBI or headed to the agency’s lab in Quantico. A controlled detonation was conducted for the device sent to Soros while the one mailed to Waters’ West Coast office was rendered safe by a bomb squad.
It’s unclear where the others are.
A suspicious white powder found in an envelope along with the device sent to Brennan and CNN was tested and found not to be anthrax or other known agents, a source said. Additional tests will be done in the coming days.