On December 16, 2013 there was a threat made against Harvard University in the form of an email. This email allegedly stated that “shrapnel bombs” were placed in two of the following buildings: The Science Center, Sever Hall, Emerson Hall, and Thayer Hall. This was during finals week for the Fall Semester. I immediately took interest in the case. One reason is Harvard University is an incubator for future members of the ruling class. Two, it is also a hotbed for Marxist ideology and it would be interesting to see how such a place would deal with “revolutionary activities” against it. Third, I have noticed the Ivory Tower has been cracking for the last couple decades and only a thin veneer remains living off its own pretentious self image, like an Iraqi Presidential Palace.
As events unfolded, I was not surprised at what happened or how the suspect is treated with favoritism due to his affiliations. I will start by sharing parts of the affidavit submitted by Special Agent Dalton of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Along with other agents of the FBI and officers of the Harvard University Police
Department, I am participating in an investigation of several bomb threats directed at Harvard
University on December 16, 2013. As set forth below, there is probable cause to believe that, on
that date, ELDO KIM, age 20, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sent several e-mail messages to
Harvard University, intending to convey the false information that bombs had been placed in
several buildings on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under circumstances
where the information might reasonably be believed, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1038(a).
While this charge is serious, it does not really make it to the level of sending the alleged perpetrator to Guantanamo Bay. It would have been funny if they indefinitely detained him. That new power granted to the Executive Branch would be especially ironic if it was used in this case since I believe it was intended to go after enemies of the ruling class.
On December 16, 2013, at approximately 8:30 a.m., the Harvard University Police
Department, two officials of Harvard University, and the president of the Harvard Crimson, the
university’s daily student newspaper, received identical e-mail messages bearing a “subject” line
that read “bombs placed around campus.” Each of the e-mail messages read as follows:
shrapnel bombs placed in:
2/4. guess correctly.
be quick for they will go off soon
The Science Center, Sever Hall, Emerson Hall, and Thayer Hall are buildings on Harvard
University’s main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I had a giggle at the “guess correctly” part. It seems the alleged perpetrator was channeling the Joker from “The Dark Knight.” It made me even more curious as to this gentleman’s belief system.
In response to the e-mail messages, the Harvard University Police Department
immediately notified the FBI. The FBI immediately began an investigation on the Harvard
University campus, in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives; the United States Secret Service; the Harvard University Police Department; the
Cambridge Police Department; the Boston Police Department; and the Massachusetts State
Police. Dozens of law enforcement officers, along with numerous other first responders, such as
firefighters of the Cambridge Fire Department, immediately went to the vicinity of the buildings
specified in the e-mail messages.
Well at least everyone got to turn on the lights and sirens, wear cool uniforms and carry neat guns. Can’t get too mad if this incident helps justify budgets.
In the course of this investigation, I have learned that the person who sent the e-mail
messages described above took steps to disguise his identity. Specifically, Harvard received the
e-mail messages from a service called Guerrilla Mail, an Internet application that creates
temporary and anonymous e-mail addresses available free of charge. Further investigation
yielded information that the person who sent the e-mail messages accessed Guerrilla Mail by
using a product called TOR, which is also available free of charge on the Internet and which
automatically assigns an anonymous Internet Protocol (“IP”) address that can be used for a
limited period of time. Every computer attached to the Internet uses an IP address, which is a
unique numerical identifier, to identify itself to other computers on the Internet and direct the
orderly flow of electronic information between them. IP addresses typically consist of four
numbers between 0 and 255 separated by periods (e.g., 184.108.40.206). Both TOR and Guerilla
Mail are commonly used by Internet users seeking to communicate anonymously and in a
manner that makes it difficult to trace the IP address of the computer being used.
9. Harvard University was able to determine that, in the several hours leading up to the
receipt of the e-mail messages described above, ELDO KIM accessed TOR using Harvard’s wireless network.
Wow. While Harvard had him on TOR, I was wondering how they were able to connect him to that email service. I read on in Special Agent Dalton’s affidavit:
On the evening of December 16, 2013, an FBI agent and an officer of the Harvard
University Police Department interviewed ELDO KIM at the building in which he resides on the
Harvard University campus. During the interview, the FBI agent advised KIM of his rights
under Miranda. KIM read and signed an advice of rights waiver, stating that he understood his
rights. KIM then stated that he authored the bomb threat e-mails described above. KIM stated
that he acted alone. He further stated that he sent the e-mails to “five or six Harvard University
e-mail addresses” that he picked at random from the university’s web page. According to KIM,
he was motivated by a desire to avoid a final exam scheduled to be held on December 16, 2013.
11. KIM further stated that he sent all of the threatening e-mails at about 8:30 a.m. and that
he used TOR to create a “guerrillamail.com” e-mail address for each of the e-mails. KIM
explained that he sent all of the bomb-threat e-mails from his MacBook Pro Laptop. KIM stated
he chose the word “shrapnel” because it sounded more dangerous and wrote, “2/4. guess
correctly,” so that it would take more time for the Harvard Police Department to clear the area.
12. KIM was scheduled to take a final exam in Emerson Hall, a building on the Harvard
campus, at 9:00 a.m. on December 16, 2013. KIM stated that he was in Emerson Hall at 9:00
a.m. when the fire alarm sounded and the building was evacuated. According to KIM, uponhearing the alarm, he knew that his plan had worked.
I would have thought a Harvard University student would be smart enough never to waive Miranda rights. I also would have thought someone who allegedly violates the law would not tell the police the who, what, why, and where without an attorney. Seems my preconceptions were wrong though. A lot of other preconceptions I had were also wrong in this case. I was expecting an incident like this to lead to the suspect being held without bond. Nope, Mr. Kim got out on a $100,000 unsecured bond. Must be nice being in the “inner party.” Try doing some computer crime over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Federal Prosecutor will literally drive you to suicide. Also, the apparent Harvard University grade inflation problem makes skipping a final like this very peculiar.
After I got done laughing about this case, I came to a few conclusions. It seems Harvard University is a very sheltered social environment. I think the alleged perpetrator believed and still believes he will get a slap on the wrist. It is looking to be that is all he is going to get. I also noticed the cognitive dissonance of the people defending the alleged perpetrator’s supposed actions. If a person is smart enough, disciplined enough, and has the connections to get into the undergraduate program at Harvard University, he will know right from wrong. I also suspect the alleged perpetrator might have done other not so moral things to get his way in the past, since most criminals do not get caught the first time they violate the law. While terrorist threats are a serious problem, this incident is important for its exposure of an academic society that may or may not think the law applies to them.
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