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United States

‘Hit list’ with more than 100 names found in bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc’s van

  • Cesar Sayoc arrested on charges of sending more than a dozen pipe bombs in manila envelopes to Democratic targets
  • Defence lawyer said complaint filed against Sayoc contained little to link him to the crime
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 2:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 2:30pm

Cesar Sayoc, a strident supporter of US President Donald Trump charged with directing a mail-bomb campaign in South Florida against prominent Democrats, kept a “hit list” of more than 100 potential political targets, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

The 56-year-old Aventura man, arrested Friday on charges of sending more than a dozen pipe bombs in manila envelopes to Democratic targets across the country, wrote down the names and addresses on the list.

The document, which includes the names of some targets already sent bombs through the mail, was found in the van in which Sayoc lived and where he is suspected of making the explosive devices, sources said.

US authorities have notified some of the potential targets on the list found in Sayoc’s van as investigators continued to track more possible mailings, including one recovered Monday at an Atlanta postal facility that was addressed to CNN’s headquarters.

Discovery of the hit list came to light Monday as Sayoc remained locked up behind bars after he made his first federal court appearance in Miami - before an expected move to New York, where his case will be formally prosecuted.

Tearful mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc faces court as 15th package is intercepted

In Miami federal court, Sayoc’s defence lawyers were granted more time to prepare a request for a bond, and Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres agreed to set a detention hearing on that matter for Friday. New York federal prosecutor Jane Kim said the government would oppose any bond for Sayoc, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk.

The defendant, wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit, shackled and surrounded by US marshals, said little about his case during the brief hearing but seemed to be fighting back tears.

Wearing short-cropped hair with a ponytail, he did identify himself to the judge as Cesar Sayoc.

Outside the courthouse, Sayoc’s defence lawyers, Daniel Aaronson and Jamie Benjamin, downplayed the strength of the US government’s criminal complaint against their client after his first court appearance.

Benjamin said the initial federal complaint filed against Sayoc contained little to link him to the crime, calling the evidence “flimsy stuff”.

Cesar Sayoc, arrested in bomb plot against Trump’s critics, is a registered Republican with a long criminal history

The defence lawyer raised questions about the FBI’s evidence of one “latent fingerprint” on a manila envelope that matches Sayoc’s and a “possible DNA association” between two mail bombs and Sayoc’s genetic sample from a prior criminal case.

“There is no indication that there are bombs out there that have anything to do with Mr Sayoc,” Benjamin said outside the courthouse.

The FBI criminal complaint, filed by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, charges Sayoc with interstate transport of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting federal officers.

It does not mention the long list of potential targets that sources said was recovered from Sayoc’s van but that and other information could emerge during Friday’s hearing.

A guide to the wild pro-Trump memes covering US bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc’s van

So far, a total of 15 similar manila packages containing crudely made explosives have been linked to Sayoc’s alleged mail-bomb campaign.

Law enforcement sources said there are still some concerns that more packages might be in transit or in other postal facilities, a worry elevated by the latest find in Atlanta and the discovery of the target list.

The targets listed in the complaint are former president Barack Obama, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton (and, by reference, her husband, former President Bill Clinton), former vice-president Joe Biden, former US attorney general Eric Holder, former CIA director John Brennan and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, US Senator Cory Booker, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, billionaire philanthropist and donor George Soros, and actor and director Robert De Niro.

Packages for Soros, De Niro, Clinton, Brennan and Clapper were mailed to the New York area, including those to Brennan and Clapper addressed to the Manhattan offices of CNN.

Sayoc, a former male stripper who had been living out of a van festooned with pro-Trump stickers and artwork depicting Obama and Hillary Clinton in crosshairs, is being held in Miami.

Federal agents are still searching for other possible suspects in South Florida who may have helped Sayoc, who was arrested at an auto-parts store.