A look at the Twitter profile of US mail bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc

Published: October 27, 2018
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ILLUSTRATION: SAADAT ALI

ILLUSTRATION: SAADAT ALI

KARACHI: Federal authorities in the United States on Friday arrested a fifty-six-year-old man from the state of  Florida for allegedly mailing ‘pipe-bombs’ to prominent politicians, businessmen and media personnel critical of US President Donald Trump.

News outlets reported that the man had been identified as Cesar Sayoc and was taken into custody by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) near an auto-parts shop in the city of Plantation.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the media that the fingerprints of the suspect had been positively matched to a package sent to Democratic Congressperson Maxine Waters.

According to reports, Sayoc has been charged with five criminal offences, which includes illegal mailing of explosives, threatening a former president, and assaulting current and former federal officers.

Earlier this week, several high-ranking members of the Democratic Party, as well as media figures and social activists, among others, had received packages in the mail which contained potential pipe-bombs. Law enforcement agencies had launched a country-wide manhunt to track down the culprit since the first bomb was intercepted on October 22.

Media in the US reported that Sayoc was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Florida while still a child. They also claimed that the suspect was a registered Republican.

Several accounts on the incident further revealed that Sayoc had an extensive criminal record, and had appeared in court on at least four occasions since his first arrest in 1991.

Sayoc described himself as a sales, marketing and project manager at a live events management firm on social media. However, more recent reports suggested that he was a bodybuilder and was working as a male dancer.

Television footage showed a white van being impounded by government officials outside the location where the suspect was arrested from. The vehicle had images in support of US President Donald Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence plastered all over it, and photos of liberal figures with target symbols over their faces.

Image shows posters in support of US President Donald Trump, targets over faces of former President Obama. PHOTO: REUTERS

Image shows posters in support of US President Donald Trump, targets over faces of former President Obama. PHOTO: REUTERS

Cesar Sayoc was an avid user of the social media and had profiles on social networking platforms Facebook and Twitter, which have since been taken down. News publications quoted FBI Special Agent David Brown as saying that the suspect operated a Twitter account under the name ‘Cesar Altieri’, with the handle @hardrock2016.

The Express Tribune went through the Twitter profile of Cesar Sayoc in order to profile the man allegedly responsible for sending threatening packages to political opponents of US President Trump.

Account summary

Twitter handle: @hardrock2016

Total tweets: 1,222

Total followers: 1,899

Total following: 32

Account analysis

A cursory glance at the data archive of the suspended account provided interesting insights into the world of Cesar Sayoc. For example, Sayoc was active on Twitter since 2016, but only gained a handful of followers between 2016-2017. However, the numbers appeared to sky-rocket in 2018, where a sudden jump can be seen in his follower count.

Out of the accounts the suspect was following, a high number were created almost a decade ago. Out of these accounts, 30 were verified and 2 were unverified.

Most of the accounts followed by the man appeared to be created in 2009, probably in the months following the inauguration of former US President Barack Obama. A small number of them were created in 2015, 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2007.

Another anomaly was evident in the data related to the accounts which followed the suspect. According to figures, there was an abnormal spike in the number of accounts following Sayoc in 2009 and 2018.

Sayoc posted his first tweet on May 20, 2016, and the most recent entry is dated October 24, 2018.

The bombing suspect was very active on the social networking website in March 2018. A little over 300 tweets were sent out between March 7 and March 12, 2018, and over 80 tweets on March 12, 2018 alone.

Business tycoon George Soros was mentioned 30 times in his tweets. A majority of tweets by Sayoc claim that Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg was a ‘paid protestor’ on the payroll of Soros. Hogg is mentioned 31 times in tweets and a majority of these tweets call him ‘fake’, ‘phony’, ‘fraud’ and a ‘paid protestor’.

Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was mentioned fourteen times in posts which appear on the profile of Sayoc. Two of these posts have been reproduced below.

Wow the disgrace and what Hilary Clinton says about Mexico . She says Mexico should take responsibility for illegals https://t.co/DEVySRsbJ5

We created Al-Qaeda: Hillary Clinton video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn0bm4E9yw

The personal account of former US President Barack Obama was tagged ten times in tweets posted by suspect, mostly in an effort to peddle conspiracy theories related to the religious beliefs of the former US president.

Democratic nominee for governor Florida Andrew Gillum was mentioned 11 times in the data reviewed by The Express Tribune.

An ominous ‘see you soon’ was part of tweets sent to US Representative Maxine Waters, once in a tweet mentioning Soros, with reference to Hogg, and once for former US attorney general Eric Holder.

@EricHolder Hey slime scum U like make threats run your https://t.co/xrQ68hOECV not worry your cover up Fast Furious with your bitch Obama not forgotten about our very close friend of we Unconquered Seminole Tribe.See u soon Tick Tock 4 https://t.co/Czy9WUTi6E

CNN is also mentioned nine times in tweets by Sayoc, some of these have been reproduced below.

CNN busted exposed kids refuse to appear at town hall meeting. Anderson Copper CNN busted again. Read factual article. Kids that refused appear at CPAC last night expose CNN and liberal Lying media  https://t.co/t1WS6sAfDO

CNN busted exposed scripted kids what to says lies con job CNN Anderson Cooper at it again  https://t.co/ICCa9djKGI

Tabloid website TMZ was tagged in over a 100 tweets and WSVN 7 News in 90 tweets posted by Sayoc. In one of these tweets, the suspect hails the militant Islamic State group and threatens TMZ. In total, the suspected bomber mentioned the Middle Eastern outfit fourteen times in tweets between 2016-2018.

@TMZ @PopCrush Hail to ISIS cleaning up world https://t.co/kP8klGWjRk

@TMZ @PopCrush TMZ needs to blown off map once for all . We  Unconuerdd Seminole Tribe agree . It beyond time to unleash ISIS https://t.co/XCXWmwjVjj  

Of the 70 tweets mentioning US President Donald Trump, most praised the Republican president for his political acumen, sent him well-wishes on big occasions, or praised rapper Kanye West for supporting Trump.

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