A former male stripper and part-time pizza deliveryman suspected of mailing at least 14 pipe bombs to some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s leading critics, including former president Barack Obama, was due in federal court in Miami, Monday.
The Brooklyn-born Cesar Sayoc, 56, is charged with five felony counts – interstate transportation and illegal mailing of explosives, threatening a former president, making threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officers.
The case is expected to be moved to New York, where he will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, officials said.
Sayoc has been held without bond since he was taken into custody in south Florida Friday by federal agents after a four-day nationwide manhunt for the person who sent homemade pipe bombs to Trump critics including Obama and former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 presidential race.
Sayoc’s alleged actions have heightened tensions during the closing days of a highly contentious campaign ahead of the Nov. 6 mid-term elections in which Democrats are battling to seize control of Congress now held by Trump’s Republican Party.
A registered Republican, Sayoc’s political views were evident on social media, railing against Democrats, Muslims and liberals in Facebook and Twitter posts.
But Trump’s supporters have accused Democrats of unfairly suggesting that the president was to blame for the bomb scares, and Trump himself accused the press of using coverage of the investigation to score political points against him.
After first calling for unity at a recent White House event, Trump lamented partisan attacks against him and again pointed at the media.
“I get attacked all the time … I can do the greatest thing for our country, and on the networks and on different things it will show bad,” he told the crowd, acknowledging an attendee who shouted “fake news.”
Public records show that Sayoc has numerous arrests over the years for domestic violence, theft and other charges, including the alleged bomb threat against a utility company.
Sayoc was arrested Friday outside an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, near Miami, and authorities also seized a white van that Sayoc appeared to live in.
The van’s windows were plastered with pro-Trump stickers, the slogan “CNN SUCKS” and images of Democratic leaders with red cross-hairs over their faces, echoing the rancor of one of the most toxic election campaigns in decades.
Fingerprint and DNA evidence helped identify the suspect, officials said, but they were uncertain if additional bombs were made.
The bombs were sent in manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap and consisted of plastic 6-inch pipes packed with explosive material and wired to small clocks and batteries, a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court said.
Some of the recovered parcels contained photographs of the intended recipients marked with a red X.
The complaint accused Sayoc of sending 13 bombs to 11 individuals, starting with billionaire Democratic donor George Soros. A package surfaced on Monday near his home in Katonah, New York.
A 14th package was found on Friday at a post office outside San Francisco addressed to another wealthy contributor to the Democratic Party and liberal causes, Tom Steyer.
All were sent through the U.S. Postal Service system and intercepted before reaching their intended targets without exploding. No one has been hurt.
A public defender listed as Sayoc’s attorney of record in New York, Sarah Baumgartel, could not immediately be reached for comment.
New Zealand: 49 Killed In Mass Shooting At Two Mosques In Christchurch
49 persons have been killed and 20 seriously injured in two mass shootings at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Forty-one were killed at the al Noor mosque. Seven died at the Linwood mosque, and one person died at the hospital.
Police say four persons, including three men and one woman, have been taken into custody. They do not believe there are any other suspects but said it was still an open investigation.
Police said a male, in his late 20s, has been charged with murder and will appear at the Christchurch court Saturday morning local time.
In a social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
Britain Votes In Favor Of Delaying Brexit
Britain’s parliament has voted in favour of delaying by three months, UK’s departure from the European Union pending approval of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal within a week.
MPs in the house of commons voted four hundred twelve to two hundred two on Thursday in Favour of a government motion proposing pushing the UK’s exit from the bloc beyond the scheduled March the 29th date.
The motion said the government would seek a “one-off extension” until June the 30th “for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation,” provided May’s widely maligned deal wins parliament’s approval by Wednesday next week.
If May fails to win parliamentary approval for her deal by march 20, the Brexit delay could be extended beyond three months. Twice now, British legislators have overwhelmingly rejected her EU divorce deal.
Israel Launches Gaza Air Attacks After Rockets Fired At Tel Aviv
Israel launched air attacks on Gaza hours after rockets were fired aimed at Tel Aviv.
This has raised fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Explosions were heard in the Gaza strip early on Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed Hamas security positions.
A Gaza Palestinian security source told AFP news agency about 30 raids targeted positions held by the military wing of Hamas and its ally Islamic jihad, causing significant damage.
Local Palestinian agencies reported a woman and her husband were both injured in the southern city of Rafah, but did not provide further details.
Israeli military said it was attacking “terror sites” in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave in the Tel Aviv area.
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