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News Brief: Pipe Bomb Investigations, Saudi Investment Conference

Oct 25, 2018
Originally published on October 25, 2018 9:40 am
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Three more suspicious packages were discovered today, one in New York for actor Robert De Niro and two in Delaware for former Vice President Joe Biden. That makes a total of 10 packages sent this week to prominent critics of President Trump along with CNN. The big question of course is who sent them. The head of the FBI's New York office, William Sweeney, gave an update on the investigation to reporters today.

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WILLIAM SWEENEY: The FBI will continue to focus all of the resources at our disposal to identify and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible for these acts.

CORNISH: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang has been reporting on the investigation from New York City. And Hansi, where does the investigation stand at this point into these packages?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Well, you have really a full force of law enforcement trying to figure out why this happened, who was behind this. This includes FBI, the NYPD, also the Secret Service. And as you mentioned, there are 10 packages that were found in New York, Florida, Delaware, California, Maryland. This is really sprawling.

And law enforcement are trying to put together all these different pieces that they've collected from these packages. They're either all sent or on their way to FBI's lab in Quantico, Va. And they're trying to really look at the details here and trying to figure out what they can figure out, including looking at the powder that was found in a package that was sent to CNN's New York office. FBI's William Sweeney talked about that earlier today. Let's listen to what he said.

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SWEENEY: The powder in those particular envelopes did not present a biological threat. Other analysis is ongoing. However, it is worth repeating that any device could be considered potentially dangerous and treated as such until proven otherwise.

WANG: You know, at this point, law enforcement are being very tight-lipped about details of what they've found out so far. You know, they're characterizing these devices as, quote, "suspected explosive devices." And they also batted away any questions that possibly any of these, you know, explosive devices could be hoaxes and said they're not getting into the intent. They're focusing on the investigation and are asking for tips from the public.

CORNISH: Are there specific threads law enforcement officials are pursuing right now?

WANG: Well, one big question is, were these packages sent through the postal system, or some of them - could they have been delivered by a courier? And also what were the materials used for these explosive devices? I spoke with a former ATF agent, and he said that really they're looking at trying to find signatures that may be able to identify who was the individual or individuals behind this. And also they're looking at closed-circuit television footage to see if they have any indication of who may be involved. And we really can't rule out that there may be more packages out there. And so that's something that postal workers and law enforcement are on the lookout for.

CORNISH: In the meantime, what more is known about the packages that were found today in Delaware and New York?

WANG: Well, the packages in New York, as we mentioned earlier, were sent to vice president - former Vice President Joe Biden in New Castle County, Del. And there was one package that was sent to the business office of Robert De Niro here in Manhattan. And what's really interesting - it was actually found by a retired cop who was working for Mr. De Niro's production company, and he spotted it after noticing very similar resemblance to photos of packages found earlier this week. And he called in - called that tip in to the bomb squad - New York City Police Department's bomb squad. They came in and removed it.

CORNISH: That's NPR national correspondent Hansi Lo Wang in New York reporting on the suspicious packages discovered this week. Hansi, thank you.

WANG: You're welcome.

CORNISH: And we're just learning tonight there's also an investigation at a post office in Opa-locka, Fla., near Miami. Police are calling it a precautionary measure. We'll bring you more news as we get it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.