STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

X-ray of package reveals new info

X-rays reveal that the suspicious packages sent to top political figures and others look the same and are made of similar substances, CNN contributor Rob Astorino said.

Posted: Oct 26, 2018 1:27 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2018 1:27 AM

The bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN were simple but functional, and there are signs whoever was behind the attempted attacks didn't know much about making bombs or disguising them, experts say.

It's possible they were more aimed at creating a panic than hurting someone, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't have been dangerous or even deadly had any of them detonated.

The packaging -- which included excessive postage and affixed address labels with misspelled words -- was highly suspicious, experts say. At least one device had a timer that can be bought for a few dollars online. They were easily detected upon being mailed or delivered, these professionals say.

Images of two devices -- one found Monday at the home of billionaire investor George Soros and one sent to CNN's New York office on Wednesday -- appear to show a real device that could cause serious bodily injury or death, said Ryan Morris, founder of Tripwire Operations Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement and military officials.

"Whoever is doing this is just trying to elicit a fear or disrupt something," Morris said. "There are a multitude of more sophisticated methodologies that would have worked if they really wanted this to work."

The design was so basic, it seems like the person or persons might want to be caught, said James Gagliano, a CNN law enforcement analyst and a retired FBI supervisory special agent. The excessive tape and stamps are a telltale sign of a suspicious package, he said.

"It just doesn't look like the signature of an experienced bomb maker, somebody that knew what they were doing," he said of the device found at CNN.

The device discovered at the Bedford, New York, home of Soros, a Democratic donor who is a subject of right-wing conspiracy theories, was placed in the mailbox rather than sent through the mail, according to a separate law enforcement source.

The packages mailed Wednesday were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap lining, the FBI said. They bore computer-printed address labels and six stamps.

The Secret Service intercepted packages intended for former President Barack Obama's Washington office and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's home in Chappaqua, north of New York City.

The package sent to CNN's office in the Time Warner Center was delivered by courier, law enforcement sources said. It was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan.

In addition, authorities also intercepted or retrieved two packages intended for US Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, and two for former Vice President Joe Biden. Other packages were sent to actor Robert De Niro and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Devices were rudimentary but functional

The FBI's counterterrorism investigators are leading the investigation into the devices and are operating under the assumption that the packages represent a domestic terror matter, according to a law enforcement official.

The packages could have prematurely detonated in the mail or with the courier, said Morris, a former bomb squad commander for the Penn State University police who is not involved in the investigation into the packages.

The packages, including the ones addressed to Clinton, Brennan and Obama, had a return address of "DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ" in Florida. The Democratic congresswoman's last name was spelled incorrectly, the FBI said. Some packages also misspelled "Florida."

Former senior FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole said she would be careful about characterizing misspellings or mistakes as carelessness by the perpetrator, who appears well-versed in politics.

"It may be very intentional because it does look like he's planned this out very well," she said.

Excess postage, tape or binding and poorly written and misspelled words are some of the signs the US Postal Service and government agencies use to detect suspicious packages.

"There are too many ways in which it could get detected prior to getting to its destination. If you're a bomb maker, you want to take it there, drop it off and leave, like in the Boston bombing," Morris said, referring to the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon blasts.

Morris said he was able to create a device similar to the one sent to CNN in about 10 minutes. He used a similar timer that could be bought on Amazon for about $9. The device had red and black wires, and the bomb maker didn't go to great lengths to disguise it, Morris said.

"A bomb maker is going to fashion a container for the bomb to disguise it in such a way that it's not readily found," he said.

One of investigators' first orders of business, according to former FBI agent Raymond Lopez, will be to determine the similarities between the packages and devices and to nail down who manufactures and sells the various components, then begin generating leads based on that information.

It's unlikely a perpetrator pulled this off without any help, said Juliette Kayyem, a CNN national security analyst and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

"Someone knows. There is no question in my mind, as we see with most of these cases, that there is an enterprise, a community around this person or people, who have some inkling, who sold something, who heard him say something, who may actually know of the plan and now feel guilty about it," Kayyem told CNN.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 503322

Reported Deaths: 10057
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34400541
DeSoto32318411
Hinds32074631
Jackson24551386
Rankin22103391
Lee15657235
Madison14662281
Jones13894243
Forrest13506253
Lauderdale12037318
Lowndes11091192
Lamar10531138
Pearl River9557238
Lafayette8581140
Hancock7751130
Washington7458161
Oktibbeha7152133
Monroe6796178
Warren6752176
Pontotoc6736104
Neshoba6656206
Panola6572131
Marshall6494135
Bolivar6331150
Union607794
Pike5849154
Alcorn5691102
Lincoln5468135
George502979
Scott474198
Tippah472481
Prentiss471582
Leflore4676144
Itawamba4651105
Tate4632111
Adams4617120
Copiah450092
Simpson4458116
Yazoo445388
Wayne440772
Covington429894
Sunflower4246105
Marion4236108
Coahoma4178108
Leake409888
Newton383179
Grenada3731108
Tishomingo361592
Stone360664
Jasper336565
Attala335290
Winston315391
Clay309077
Chickasaw302367
Clarke295894
Calhoun279947
Holmes268788
Smith266550
Yalobusha237247
Tallahatchie228752
Greene220649
Walthall219364
Lawrence213640
Perry206456
Amite206056
Webster203446
Noxubee186940
Montgomery179757
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169639
Tunica160139
Benton149439
Kemper142141
Choctaw134627
Claiborne132838
Humphreys129738
Franklin120728
Quitman106828
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson95934
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 821255

Reported Deaths: 15424
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1149051930
Mobile726651340
Madison52400699
Shelby37685350
Baldwin37285552
Tuscaloosa35147613
Montgomery34130740
Lee23556246
Calhoun22255490
Morgan21037378
Etowah19844500
Marshall18390304
Houston17406412
St. Clair16091339
Cullman15493293
Limestone15402199
Elmore15292286
Lauderdale14366295
Talladega13870283
DeKalb12670261
Walker11255370
Blount10227176
Autauga10061148
Jackson9909185
Coffee9215191
Dale8912186
Colbert8907201
Tallapoosa7103198
Escambia6782134
Covington6724183
Chilton6658162
Russell637659
Franklin5992105
Chambers5615142
Marion5016127
Dallas5013202
Pike4799106
Clarke477284
Geneva4577127
Winston4538103
Lawrence4352117
Bibb425686
Barbour358376
Marengo338390
Monroe332064
Randolph330264
Butler328596
Pickens317384
Henry313166
Hale311988
Cherokee303260
Fayette294580
Washington251651
Cleburne247960
Clay245568
Crenshaw245475
Macon235563
Lamar225747
Conecuh186654
Coosa180940
Lowndes175764
Wilcox169139
Bullock151844
Perry139240
Sumter133338
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 53°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 53°
Oxford
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
High pressure leaves our area overnight and allows room for some low pressure and a cold front to move into our area on Wednesday. This will bring some good chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms into our area during later portions of our Wednesday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather