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. 


Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

Updated 37 min 20 sec ago

Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

  • Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the Malay-Muslim population
  • Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states

BANGKOK: A Thai Muslim student group Wednesday called for police to drop an order requesting universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in the Buddhist-majority state.
Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states, which since 2004 have been in the grip of a conflict between Malay-Muslim separatist rebels and Thai authorities.
Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the majority Malay-Muslim population in that region — which is under martial law.
Last week the Special Branch Bureau issued a nationwide order to universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in school, police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told AFP Tuesday, citing “security” concerns.
The news sparked immediate outrage from the community, and the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand on Wednesday called for parliament to “cancel” the request.
The Special Branch’s order “is also a form of discrimination that breaches the constitution,” president Ashraf Awae said, speaking outside parliament.
Such “groundless accusations... could create divisions among the Muslim students and others in the university and society,” he said.
He added the federation had already heard of police requesting information on Muslim student groups from at least three major universities.
Junta chief-turned-prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday defended the Special Branch, and denied creating a “database” would be a violation of people’s rights.
“We can’t arrest anyone if they don’t do anything wrong,” he told reporters.
Prayut’s backing shows an “alarming trend of growing Islamophobia in Thailand,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk.
“This is state-sanctioned discrimination,” he told AFP, adding that the Thai constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination toward different religions and ethnic groups.
“It could feed into radicalization of Muslims in the deep south and worsen the conflict,” Sunai said.
The ex-general had masterminded a coup in 2014, leading a five-year junta regime before elections in March formally installed him as a civilian premier thanks to a new constitution tilted to the military.
Under Prayut’s tenure as junta head, police had rounded up at least 50 Thai Muslims, mostly university students, in a dragnet operation in October 2016 that authorities justified was necessary to stop a suspected car bomb plot.