Investment firm here latest to get threat

February 10, 2007
BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter

The person who recently mailed an unarmed pipe bomb to a Loop investment firm fits the description of The Bishop, the nom de guerre of someone who has sent threatening letters to Midwest companies since 2005, according to a security expert.

The bomb -- and another one recently sent to a company in Kansas City -- were inside packages with a northwest suburban Rolling Meadows postmark and a Streamwood return address, said Fred Burton of Strategic Forecasting Inc.

"If The Bishop is not identified and apprehended, he likely will continue his efforts to manipulate stock prices. As his threats are ignored, his demands unmet and his grandiose plans thwarted, he probably will continue to escalate his behavior -- and eventually will send live devices to his targets," Burton wrote in a report issued Wednesday.

Burton, a former State Department counterterrorism agent, orchestrated the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing. He is a vice president at Strategic Forecasting, an Austin, Texas, company that provides corporations and government officials with security forecasts.

Wants stocks to hit $6.66

His report said The Bishop appears to have many of the same characteristics as the Unabomber, an anarchist whose mail bombs killed three people and wounded 23 from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

"He is most likely a white male, a loner with minimal social skills and one who harbors delusions of grandeur -- to the point that he believes he can influence the behavior of particular stocks," Burton said, adding that corporations have "good reason" to review their mail-handling procedures and emergency plans.

In 2005, The Bishop started sending anonymous, threatening letters to financial services companies in the Midwest demanding the targeted companies take action to move specific stocks to a predetermined price, often $6.66, the report said. The letters were signed "The Bishop."

On Feb. 2, a mail bomb was discovered at Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell & Co., 311 S. Wacker, police said. The package originally was mailed to Janus Capital Group Inc. in Denver and forwarded to the Chicago firm, which handles Janus business, officials said.

According to a law enforcement source, the letter accompanying the Chicago bomb said: "The only reason you're alive is I didn't attach one wire," adding, "There's nothing the police or anybody can do, so don't contact them."

'Think twice'
On Jan. 31, a similar device was found in a Kansas City mail facility for American Century, another investment company. Federal authorities were examining similarities between the letter bombs. Both devices were made of PVC pipe, smokeless powder and buckshot -- and both packages were postmarked Jan. 26, Burton said.

Law enforcement authorities said neither device was equipped with a trigger.

"Our hope is that folks will think twice before they blindly open their packages," Burton said in an interview, noting that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Web site offers tips on how to spot suspicious packages.

A spokeswoman for the postal inspection service, the lead agency investigating the pipe bombs, could not be reached for comment.

fmain@suntimes.com