The 'big brother' letter bomber could kill warn police
UK Daily Mail | February 8, 2007
A letter bomber who has struck fear into offices and homes across the country could kill if he is not stopped, it was warned last night.
Seven deadly parcels have been sent in just three weeks and a desperate has been launched to catch the maniac before he strikes again.
Jiffy bags containing crudely made firework based devices have exploded on five occasions, injuring nine people.
At least two of the packages have been stuffed with glass shards, which nearly blinded one victim, and a third contained a strip of metal.
Last night, as Royal Mail sorting offices were placed on full alert, security sources admitted that the motive for the campaign was baffling detectives.
Experts are concerned that whoever is sending out the packages is making them increasingly dangerous, to the point where they could kill.
Yesterday police revealed that the terror campaign started on January 18 - three weeks ago - when a trio of devices was delivered to firms specialising in forensic science in Oxfordshire and Birmingham.
References on the packets to animal rights causes initially led police to believe that they were dealing with an anti vivisection extremist.
But since Saturday, another four letters have exploded within the space of five days in London, Berkshire, Kent and at the DVLA headquarters in Swansea.
One theory being investigated by police is that whoever is carrying out the campaign has a hatred of the so called "surveillance society".
All seven targets are in their own way linked to arguably intrusive work. The first three firms carry out DNA testing.
The owner of the Kent business targeted runs security services and CCTV systems while the remaining three organisations are all connected to the enforcement of motoring fines.
The physical similarity between the packages is such that officers are now linking all seven. One clue is that the Kent device had a Cambridgeshire postmark.
As he issued a warning to the public, Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell said the bombs were contained in "padded A5 size envelopes".
He said they had a mixture of labels which included typed and handwritten addresses. None of the seven was addressed to an individual.
Instead, they were sent to an unnamed company executive.
Mr Setchell described the explosives as "pyrotechnic" and said the intention was to cause shock and injury.
"The packages received so far have caused minor injuries but could have been more serious," he said.
"I am appealing for companies, organisations and individuals to take extra care when handling mail.
"This is now a very substantial investigation involving a number of forces including regional and national specialist police resources.
"If they have any suspicions about any letter or package, they should leave it unopened and call the police immediately."
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, warned that a continuation of the campaign could result in someone losing their life.
Chief executive Paul Coen said: "We can only hope that the perpetrator of these bombings is caught by the police before someone is seriously injured or killed."
The warnings came after two men and two women at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea were taken to hospital after a letter exploded yesterday morning.
One woman, who was being treated for cuts last night, said: "I was shaken, shocked and frightened.
"It's hard to describe how I felt. Everybody started running around me and I felt quite calm, but I didn't really know what had happened."
The DVLA attack came after Monday's explosion at the headquarters of Capita, which administers the London congestion charges and Tuesday's attack on Berkshire-based Vantis, linked to traffic monitoring firm Speed Check Services.
This trio of attacks had suggested that the bomber was a disgruntled motorist protesting over enforcement fines.
But it later emerged that on Saturday, security consultant Michael Wingfield, who has no apparent link to motoring, was targeted at his terraced house Folkestone, Kent.
The 53-year-old had received a parcel addressed to the "senior manager" at a company he used to run which was dissolved 14 months ago.
It blew up in his face, burning his eyebrows and spitting out shards of glass which narrowly missed his eyes.
Mr Wingfield, a father-of-two, said last night he did not know why the parcel had been sent to him.
He said: "It could have blinded me. There was glass sticking in me, in my face, in my finger and in my stomach.
"My jumper was like a tea bag, and I got a few bits of glass sticking into me. In retrospect I was very lucky. It could have been more serious."
The apparently random nature of the attacks has led detectives to conclude that the campaign is the work of one or possibly two publicity seeking individuals who have a grudge against a number of firms.
Initial analysis of the devices suggests that they are homemade and not particularly sophisticated.
They contained easily available firework powder linked to an electrical charge which detonates when the packet is ripped open.
Detectives from five forces are now wading through a large list of possible suspects under the guidance of the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit - which investigates non terrorist UK-based extremists.
The first three attacks were all on firms with links to DNA testing.
The companies carry out tests on behalf of the police but also do private work for the farming industry and offer paternity testing to settle custody battles.
But the subsequent attacks on firms with different backgrounds has left officers with no clear motive for the seven. Home Secretary John Reid said the attacks were "worrying".
He added: "The police are on top of this. They are keeping me informed."
Postmen were last night urged to look out for potential danger signs. But around 80 million letters and packages are handled by 200,000 postal workers every day - making any effective screening almost impossible.
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