Incident Summary:

05/13/2002: A small pipe bomb put in a foam box was found in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States mailbox. Police safely detonated the device, which was packed with nails, and no one was hurt. The bomb had a note that stated "Free Palestine" and also reportedly made some reference to Al-Qaida. A 53 year old Philadelphia man, Preston Lit, who had no connections with Al-Qaida or any other terrorist group, was charged with threatening to use explosives. He had a criminal past and reportedly suffered from bi-polar disorder and other mental sicknesses.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Successful Attack? (more) No
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Government (General)
Name of Entity U.S. Postal Service
Specific Description US Mail Boxes
Nationality of Target United States
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Civilians
Specific Description Residents of Princeton and Summerdale Avenues in Philadelphia
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives/Bombs/Dynamite Letter Bomb
Weapon Details
A small homemade pipe bomb placed inside of a foam package filled with nails and an explosive charge, and with the words "Free Palestine" on it, was used in the attack
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) Yes
Alternate Designation (more) Other Crime Type
Additional Information The perpetrator, Preston Lit, also may have been connected to a note written in Arabic that was close to the mailbox containing the bomb and to some sneakers that also had Arabic writing on them. Lit had previously been arrested for stalking TV personality, Steve Levy, and had written letters to President Bush and Pennsylvania Governor Schweiker that had as their return address "Royal al-Queda Headquarters."
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Jihadi-inspired extremists No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Erin Einhorn, Gloria Campisi, Kitty Caparella, "Man is accused of terrorizing NE Nabe; Discarded trash leads cops to bomb suspect," Daily News, May 16, 2002.
"Man is charged in mailbox bomb case," Union Tribune, May 16, 2002.
David B. Curoso, "Authorities: Bomb likely not linked to Middle Eastern terrorism," The Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 14, 2002.