AUSTIN (KXAN) - While hundreds of Austin police officers and officials from various federal agencies try to piece together the latest bombing in Austin and how it's connected to the other three that occurred in the past 16 days, the chief security officer with a geopolitical intelligence platform provided his analysis of the situation.
Fred Burton with Stratfor spoke on KXAN News Today, saying he believes, as police do, that the same bomber is responsible for the four explosions that killed two people and injured four others. However, the suspect changed his modus operandi by using a tripwire in the latest incident.
Based on past bomber profiles, this suspect is likely a man, Burton said. The person also likely lives and works in Austin; has practiced making bombs or already had that skill; and spent time on reconnaissance before he set up the bombs. He also says it is possible the suspect has a military background.
"His targeting and his rationale is making perfect sense to him," Burton said. "It’s absolutely crazy for you and I and for your viewers, but there is a method to his madness as well as exactly why he’s chosen these specific venues."
Scott Stewart, Vice President of tactical analysis at Stratfor, said it’s interesting to see the shift in the suspect’s tactics, which were initially perceived to be racially motivated toward targeted individuals.
Stewart, who was a special agent with the U.S. State Department for 10 years, said the level of sophistication in the devices is striking. He said that also indicates the suspect has some sort of training or expertise since he was able to change his methods in response to publicity over the bombs.
“He was able to very rapidly switch from basically booby trap package bombs, motion-activated bombs, to using a tripwire-type device in this latest bomb and that’s showing that he has some skill and he was able to transition quickly,” Stewart said. “It didn't take a lot of time and research to make the change.”
With this latest bomb tactic, Stewart said he believes investigators will find some bomb components that will have significant forensic value. He said the suspect clearly has different methods in his repertoire and is likely switches tactics again.
"If I had to guess or forecast, in all probability he’s going to strike may be just north of where he hit last night."
"The more bombings you conduct, the more little pieces and traces of evidence you're leaving behind," Stewart said. "... Certainly the bomber is feeling very confident, not only in this bomb-making tradecraft, but also his operational tradecraft on the street. He's feeling that he's not being observed and is able to operate that freely despite the massive manhunt underway for him."
The locations of the bombings -- one in northeast Austin, one in east Austin, one in southeast Austin and the latest in southwest Austin -- also appear to circle the city, Burton added.
"If I had to guess or forecast, in all probability he’s going to strike may be just north of where he hit last night," Burton said, referring to the latest bombing in the Travis Country neighborhood.
At some point, Burton expects the bomber will reach out, possibly through the media. For now, he's likely enjoying the attention, but "he knows law enforcement will eventually close in." Usually, Burton says people may be shocked by the suspect's identity because he won't be who they expect.KXAN's Robert Hadlock speaks to Richard Burton about the bombing suspect's background and where he can strike next.