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White powder letters sent to American, Israeli embassies in Berlin

A robot operated remotely by an Explosive Ordinance Disposal member picks up suspicious package during Wing Inspection Team exercise, Aug. 1 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (Tech. Sgt. John Hughel/U.S. Air National Guard)
September 06, 2018

The American and Israeli embassies in Berlin were the latest recipients of threatening letters containing a suspicious white powder.

German police said testing of the white substance revealed it to be non-harmful laundry soap, the Times of Israel reported.

The U.S. Embassy received letters on Aug. 22 and again on August 30, Police spokesman Martin Halweg said Tuesday. The Israeli Embassy received one package on Aug. 22.

Halweg said police have a suspect who they believe to be the same individual responsible for sending letters to the embassies in July.

German authorities are ordering psychological counseling and possibly inpatient care for the suspect.

This hoax attack follows many others that generate a great deal of fear in people.

In 2001, a similar attack surfaced, but turned out not to be a hoax. The attack targeted news organizations and two U.S. senators, where five were killed and 17 fell ill by the white substance, anthrax.

In 2008, Chase banks were the target when 53 letters containing white powder turned up, all of which were mailed from Amarillo, Texas.

The first arrived at a Chase bank in Norman, Oklahoma on Monday, October 20. An employee opened the letter that read: “It’s payback time. What you breathed in will kill you within 10 days.”

Around the same time in a Denver suburb Chase bank, an employee opened a similar letter, forcing an evacuation of the bank and surrounding grocery store.

Since then, hoaxes containing the white powder have been rampant, especially in the U.S.

There are more than 800 incidents reported across the country every year, involving baking soda, sugar, ground-up antacids, cornstarch, baby powder, dried toothpaste and every other manner of white powder available, Slate reported.

In February of this year, Donald Trump Jr.’s family was a target of the hoax, the Boston Herald reported. Vanessa Trump opened an envelope addressed to her husband, Donald Trump Jr. at her mother’s midtown Manhattan apartment. The letter contained a white powder, and Vanessa was rushed to a nearby hospital.

After testing, the powder was found to be just cornstarch. The origin of the letter was traced to Boston.