Prosecutors say pipe bomb suspect committed ‘domestic terrorist attack’
The man accused of sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to high-profile Democrats committed a “domestic terrorist attack,” federal prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing, arguing he be detained pending trial.
Cesar Sayoc Jr. was arrested Friday and charged with five federal crimes after the FBI identified him as the prime suspect in the investigation into explosive devices mailed to the homes of former President Obama, Hillary Clinton and other targets last week. He has not been charged with terrorism.
In a new court filing, government prosecutors argue that Sayoc should be detained pending trial “due to both his dangerousness to the community and risk of flight,” saying he engaged in a “terror campaign.”
They also wrote that Sayoc has been linked to devices mailed to billionaire and major democratic donor Tom Steyer and CNN since his arrest, suggesting that the FBI’s ongoing investigation had already turned up other potential victims and could reveal additional explosive devices. The letter references evidence seized from Sayoc’s electronic devices reportedly indicating he began plotting the attacks as far back as July.
“The defendant conducted a domestic terrorist attack targeting at least 15 victims with improvised explosive devices (‘IEDS’) that he sent to locations throughout the country in padded mailing envelopes,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman wrote in a letter to Judge Edwin Torres on Tuesday.
The devices — which targeted some of President Trump’s fiercest critics — sparked massive, nationwide attention last week, prompting the president to condemn the threats “political violence.”
Some blamed Trump’s rhetoric for inciting the attempted attacks. Subsequent reports following his arrest have identified Sayoc as an avid Trump supporter.
Tuesday’s letter comes in advance of Sayoc’s detention hearing scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 in federal court in Florida. Prosecutors are seeking his transfer to the Southern District of New York, where he will face trial. Sayoc, 56, currently faces five charges that carry a maximum sentence of 48 years in prison.
They include interstate transportation of an explosive; illegally mailing explosives; threatening former presidents and others; conveying threats in interstate communications; and assaulting federal officers.
Berman wrote Tuesday that the suspect is “likely to face additional charges and increased penalties.”
“The FBI’s investigation is ongoing, and the Government is in the process of evaluating additional evidence, which may warrant further criminal charges,” Berman wrote. “However, the seriousness of the existing charges, as well as of the underlying conduct, strongly support the imposition of a detention order.”
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