Cesar Sayoc, accused of sending bombs to Donald Trump's enemies, lived in this van covered in pro-Trump stickers.EXPAND
Cesar Sayoc, accused of sending bombs to Donald Trump's enemies, lived in this van covered in pro-Trump stickers.
photos by David Cypkin

Five Times Bombs Shook South Florida

It seemed like a new bomb was popping up every day last week, First came billionaire George Soros, then the Clintons, and then the Obamas. When CNN's headquarters in New York was evacuated after receiving yet another pipe bomb, the pattern became pretty clear: someone was sending bombs to the people Trump hates the most, those who make what he has called "fake news" or whom he challenged with chants such as "Lock her up!"

The search for the sender had all eyes focused on South Florida, when the alleged bomber, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, was arrested in Planation. Social media posts and photos of Sayoc's van show the man is a Trump fanatic who frequently attended Trump rallies in South Florida and often sent death threats online to people he would later send bombs to. On October 3rd, just a few weeks before former Attorney General Eric Holder was sent a bomb, Sayoc tweeted at Holder saying, "See You Soon, Tick Tock."

While Sayoc's arrest Friday focused attention on the Sunshine State, South Florida has a long history of residents who hatch half-assed bomb threats — and of anti-Castro Cuban exiles who actually made good on their plans:

1. When the United States government secretly plotted to plant bombs in Miami and pin it on Castro.

The National Archives ended up making public only a fraction of the JFK documents last night. Still, the 2,800  papers included in the new document dump confirm some salacious details of America's decades-long quest to kill or depose Fidel Castro — including a fairly shocking plan by the CIA to sow terror in Miami.

After Castro's revolution succeeded and thousands of Cubans fled to South Florida, the agency actually considered murdering a boatload of refugees, assassinating exile leaders, and planting bombs in Miami — all so Castro could be blamed for the chaos.

The basic idea was to turn world opinion against Castro and possibly justify a U.S. military invasion by pinning the atrocities on him. The details of the sinister plot are included in a summary about Operation Mongoose, a 1960 covert op hatched by the CIA under President Dwight Eisenhower with the aim of toppling Communist Cuba. The campaign was included in a report on "pretexts" the U.S. could conjure up to justify a military intervention in Cuba.  

2. When Cuban extremists actually set off dozens of bombs in Miami (or did they?).

In 1975, there were dozens of terrorist bombings in Dade County — up to 35 by some counts — mostly carried out by militant anti-Castro groups dedicated to the violent overthrow of the regime.

Two months earlier, in October, a bomb detonated in a locker at the main entrance of Miami International Airport. Then in December, eight bombs went off in government buildings, including the FBI Office, Post Office buildings, and the local prosecutor's office, as well as police headquarters. The bomb in police headquarters, which consisted of about a pound of dynamite, shattered windows and blew out a 15-foot section of the ceiling.

The MIA bomb and December eight-bomb spree were eventually linked to Cuban exile and Bay of Pigs veteran Rolando Otero after his fingerprint was found on a part of the MIA locker that housed the bomb. Otero was the youngest man to fight in Brigade 2506, a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles formed in 1960 to attempt the military overthrow of Fidel Castro. After his connection to the nine bombs was confirmed, police dubbed Otero the “mad bomber.”

3. When Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles blew up an airliner, killing 73 people.

In Little Havana, it was an open secret that Luis Posada Carriles had blown up a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73 people. And many observers later suspected Carriles was also behind a series of 1997 attacks on Cuban hotels that killed an Italian tourist and injured 11 others.

But in a 1998 interview with then-Telemundo TV host Maria Elvira Salazar, the anti-Castro terrorist seemed to outright confess to those hotel attacks.

"I accept responsibility for any act in Cuban territory against the Havana regime," Posada told Salazar on her show Polos Opuestos. In a follow-up TV appearance the next day, Salazar stated on-air that Posada "admitted masterminding the explosions that happened in Cuba last year."

But when Salazar was called to the stand years later in a 2011 federal trial against Posada that hinged on whether he had in fact orchestrated the bombings, she changed her tune and testified she did not know whether the infamous bomber had confessed to killing innocent people.

4. When a man in Key West plotted to bomb beaches in the Florida Keys.

According to the feds, Harlem Suarez was a radical, an extremist, and an imminent danger to the public. In the summer of 2015, a confidential informant recorded the 23-year-old plotting to bomb a public beach in the Florida Keys, and investigators found an arsenal of explosive materials inside his apartment. After a three-month investigation, FBI agents swarmed Key West and charged him with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

That was the official narrative. But Suarez now says the evidence wasn't what it looked like. From a high-security federal penitentiary in Central Florida, he sent New Times a letter explaining he was trying to manufacture cocaine — not a bomb.

I told my lawyer that the chemicals I had were to make cocaine," he wrote in Spanish. "My lawyer refused to present the evidence."

That argument may not have helped Suarez at trial in light of the other evidence, though. Photos from the case show containers of ammonia and hydrochloric acid on a dresser in his bedroom, and a computer expert found that Suarez had searched phrases such as "how to make a bom [sic]" on Google. He was also recorded talking about putting timer bombs in the parking lot of Miami's Dolphin Mall and burying a bomb in the sand on a beach in the Keys.

5. When a Confederate flag-loving Cutler Bay resident threatened to bomb a Miami Mosque.

Last October, Cutler Bay resident Dustin Hughes stamped his profile picture with an image of a Confederate flag and the message "Heritage not hate." But hate is exactly what has landed Hughes in jail on felony charges.

Prosecutors say Hughes repeatedly called the Jamaat ul Muttaqeen mosque in Pembroke Pines and left voicemails threatening to blow the place up and kill all the worshippers inside. The case marks yet another instance in which someone posting white-supremacist or neo-Confederate iconography has been arrested on hate-crime charges.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Florida federal court last Wednesday, Hughes allegedly called the mosque May 5 at 4:06 p.m. and left the following voicemail: You fucking Muslim piece of shit. I planted a bomb in your temple; I'm gonna blow your fucking temple up, you fucking Muslim piece of shit. Where you guys have your sanctuary and worship Allah, I'm gonna blow that motherfucker up. l have a detonator, l'm gonna cause that motherfucker to go off, you guys are all gonna be up in flames after l'm done with you! You guys wanna come here and cause mayhem to America, well, I'm gonna cause mayhem to your religion 'cause your religion is nothing but lies. Lies, lies, lies from the Devil! Where's Allah now?

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >