FBI arrests man suspected in spree of parcel bombs

A police truck tows a total containment vessel to a post office in midtown Manhattan to dispose of a suspicious package. (AP Photo)
Updated 27 October 2018
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FBI arrests man suspected in spree of parcel bombs

  • 56-year-old registered Republican arrested in connection with at least a dozen parcel bombs sent to high-profile critics of US President Donald Trump
  • Public records showed Cesar Sayoc has been arrested numerous times over the years

NEW YORK: The man suspected of sending at least a dozen parcel bombs to high-profile critics of US President Donald Trump is a 56-year-old registered Republican in Florida with a lengthy criminal history, according to public records.
Public records showed Cesar Sayoc has been arrested numerous times over the years for domestic violence, theft and other charges. In one case, court records showed he was accused of threatening to use a bomb, though details were not immediately available.
Sayoc was taken into custody on Friday morning outside an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, federal authorities said. He is suspected of sending parcel bombs to former President Barack Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and various other public figures who have been frequent targets of Trump’s derision.
Sayoc’s white van, which was seized by authorities, had numerous signs in the windows showing Trump, including a drawing depicting the president standing on top of a tank emblazoned with “Trump” on the sides. The van also had a “CNN SUCKS” sign and a photo of Clinton with a bullseye superimposed on her face. CNN also received one of the suspicious packages at its New York office.
Sayoc appears to have a Facebook profile under the name Cesar Altieri Randazzo, featuring videos and photos of him attending multiple rallies for Trump, including at least one rally in Florida. The account has “liked” more than 100 conservative pages, including several anti-Clinton and pro-Trump groups.
He is a promoter, booking agent and “live entertainment owner,” according to his LinkedIn profile, which used his middle name, Altieri, and listed him as the owner of International Gold Productions.
The profile also described him as a veterinary student at High Point University in North Carolina. The school’s registrar’s office confirmed that Sayoc had applied, but said he was not currently enrolled.
He graduated Brevard College in North Carolina in 1984, according to his LinkedIn profile. The college declined to confirm whether he had attended the school, but Sayoc was on the Brevard College soccer team in 1981 and pictured as part of a Catholic organization at the school, according to school documents posted online.
Court records in Florida listed Sayoc’s birthplace as Brooklyn, New York.
He filed for bankruptcy in Miami in 2012, according to court records. At the time, Sayoc said he lived with his mother in Aventura, Florida, and listed a $1,150 tax refund and a 2001 Chevy Tahoe vehicle as his only assets.
In court documents, Sayoc said he had worked as a store manager for a year at a small company called Hassanco Investments Inc. in Hollywood, Florida, earning less than $12,000 a year. Attempts to reach the owner of the company were not successful. 


UN: Nearly 71 million now displaced by war, violence at home

Updated 19 June 2019
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UN: Nearly 71 million now displaced by war, violence at home

  • The figures are bound to add fuel to a debate at the intersection of international law, human rights and domestic politics
  • UNHCR said 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of last year, up from about 68.5 million in 2017

GENEVA: A record 71 million people have been displaced worldwide from war, persecution and other violence, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday, an increase of more than 2 million from last year and an overall total that would amount to the world’s 20th most populous country.
The annual “Global Trends” report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees counts the number of the world’s refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people at the end of 2018, in some cases following decades of living away from home.
The figures, coming on the eve of World Refugee Day on Thursday, are bound to add fuel to a debate at the intersection of international law, human rights and domestic politics, especially the movement in some countries, including the US, against immigrants and refugees.
Launching the report, the high commissioner, Filippo Grandi, had a message for US President Donald Trump and other world leaders, calling it “damaging” to depict migrants and refugees as threats to jobs and security in host countries. Often, they are fleeing insecurity and danger themselves, he said.
The report also puts a statistical skeleton onto often-poignant individual stories of people struggling to survive by crossing rivers, deserts, seas, fences and other barriers, natural and man-made, to escape government oppression, gang killings, sexual abuse, militia murders and other such violence at home.
UNHCR said 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of last year, up from about 68.5 million in 2017 — and nearly a 65 percent increase from a decade ago. Among them, nearly three in five people — or more than 41 million people — have been displaced within their home countries.
“The global trends, once again unfortunately, go in what I would say is the wrong direction,” Grandi told reporters in Geneva. “There are new conflicts, new situations, producing refugees, adding themselves to the old ones. The old ones never get resolved.”
The phenomenon is both growing in size and duration. Some four-fifths of the “displacement situations” have lasted more than five years. After eight years of war in Syria, for instance, its people continue to make up the largest population of forcibly displaced people, at some 13 million.
Amid runaway inflation and political turmoil at home, Venezuelans for the first time accounted for the largest number of new asylum-seekers in 2018, with more than 340,000 — or more than one in five worldwide last year. Asylum-seekers receive international protection as they await acceptance or rejection of their requests for refugee status.
UNHCR said that its figures are “conservative” and that Venezuela masks a potentially longer-term trend.
Some 4 million people are known to have left the South American country in recent years. Many of those have traveled freely to Peru, Colombia and Brazil, but only about one-eighth have sought formal international protection, and the outflow continues, suggesting the strains on the welcoming countries could worsen.
Grandi predicted a continued “exodus” from Venezuela and appealed for donors to provide more development assistance to the region.
“Otherwise these countries will not bear the pressure anymore and then they have to resort to measures that will damage refugees,” he said. “We are in a very dangerous situation.”
The United States, meanwhile, remains the “largest supporter of refugees” in the world, Grandi said in an interview. The US is the biggest single donor to UNHCR. He also credited local communities and advocacy groups in the United States for helping refugees and asylum-seekers in the country.
But the refugee agency chief noted long-term administrative shortcomings that have given the United States the world’s biggest backlog of asylum claims, at nearly 719,000. More than a quarter-million claims were added last year.
He also decried recent rhetoric that has been hostile to migrants and refugees.
“In America, just like in Europe actually and in other parts of the world, what we are witnessing is an identification of refugees — but not just refugees, migrants as well — with people that come take away jobs that threaten our security, our values,” Grandi said. “And I want to say to the US administration — to the president — but also to the leaders around the world: This is damaging.”
He said many people leaving Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador through Mexico have faced violence by gangs and suffered from “the inability of these governments to protect their own citizens.”
The UNHCR report noted that by far, the most refugees are taken in in the developing world, not wealthy countries.
The figures marked the seventh consecutive year in which the numbers of forcibly displaced rose.
“Yet another year, another dreadful record has been beaten,” said Jon Cerezo of British charity Oxfam. “Behind these figures, people like you and me are making dangerous trips that they never wanted to make, because of threats to their safety and most basic rights.”