Mail Bomb Threats Strike Financial Companies

Threats becoming real as bombs arrive at financial company offices


KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A letter writer who has waged an intimidation campaign against financial companies since 2005 could be behind mail bombs found in Kansas City and Chicago, a security company warned.

The unknown suspect, who calls himself The Bishop, wrote a letter last June threatening to start sending package bombs, according to Fred Burton, vice president of counterterrorism for Stratfor, a Texas-based security and intelligence firm.

"In other words, The Bishop could be on the path to becoming the next Unabomber," Burton wrote this week in a report to clients.

A mail handler at an American Century Investments postal facility in Kansas City discovered a pipe bomb Jan. 31. The next day, a similar device was discovered at a business in a 65-story skyscraper in downtown Chicago. Neither bomb was wired to go off, and no one was injured in either incident.

Investigators said they recovered notes with both bombs. Burton's report said the bomb in Kansas City arrived with a note reading, "Bang! You're dead!"

Spokesmen for the FBI in Chicago and Kansas City and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in St. Louis said they could not comment on the information released by Stratfor because of the continuing investigation into the mailed bombs.

Chris Doyle, a spokesman for American Century, declined to comment on the Stratfor report Friday, saying that investigators had asked the firm to remain silent. He did say that the company continues to upgrade its security procedures.

"They've been enhanced, and we're looking at additional measures," Doyle said.

Burton's letter is a weekly terrorism report he writes for company clients and subscribers, including multinational corporations and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, he said. Burton said the information he gathered for the report came from a variety of sources, which he declined to identify.

Burton doesn't know how many victims have received threatening letters, which came in two rounds, one in 2005 and one last year.

The letters were mailed from Midwestern states, including Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. They demanded that the companies manipulate the prices of specific stocks to a predetermined price, often $6.66, Burton said.

When the companies took no action on the demands, the letters assumed a more belligerent tone, Burton said. In a June letter that began with the phrase "Times up," the suspect threatened to mail three "packages" if a stock price did not behave a certain way on four specific days.

He ended the June letter with, "It is better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven."

In an interview, Burton said the bombs sent last week appear to be the escalation The Bishop previously had promised.

"It's also a bit scary, because this is an individual that is not just a delusional letter writer, he is actually progressing down that target selection list and doing what he said he's going to do," Burton said.

Burton said he can only speculate as to why the individual calls himself The Bishop.

"He does make some biblical references in his correspondence, or it could be something as simple as he views this as some sort of mental chess match and he's the bishop," Burton said.

Burton said the Chicago bomb originally was mailed to a company in Denver but was rerouted to a sister firm in Chicago because the return address was from the Chicago area.

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