What Twitter Reveals About the Mind of the Mail Bomber

“We have air boat tour of our Swampland Everglades. Hug your loved ones every time U leave home.”

It was Ceaser Sayoc’s signature threat on Twitter toward left-leaning personalities. Never mind that he didn’t live in the everglades or that most of the people he was threatening were well-beyond airboat reach. Many such threats were accompanied by news reports of bodies being eaten up by alligators or people getting lost in the everglades never to return. This seemed to be Sayoc’s preferred method of murder; kidnapping people and dumping them in the everglades for the gators. But he’d ultimately resort to a much less quiet option: bombs. He’d be arrested in late October in connection with 13 potential explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats and left leaning celebrities.

The bombs shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who paid attention to Sayoc’s life online. He had been posting such threats for months. Political commentator, Rochelle Ritchie, even reported a threat he made against her in early October, but Twitter claimed that the tweet didn’t break any of their guidelines. Twitter has since admitted that that was a mistake.

Some pundits, however, are more concerned with declaring someone responsible for fostering the radical rhetoric behind Sayoc’s actions then addressing the failure to prevent him from mailing the bombs in the first place. The President claims that the media plays a role in political violence while many in the media cite the President’s bombastic rhetoric as the basis for Sayoc’s actions, even calling Sayoc the Make America Great Again Bomber. But the fantasy world that Sayoc lived in online is more complicated than left and right politics.

The International Federation of Nude Bodybuilding

One of the things people have noticed on Sayoc’s Twitter is his repeated reference to the Unconquered Seminole Tribe. The Seminole Tribe boasts that they are the only native American tribe to have never signed a treaty with the United States government. Sayoc has believed that he is a native American as far back as his bomb threats against Florida Power and Lines according to the lawyer that represented him at that time. Nonetheless, documents obtained by the Miami Herald indicate that he is actually Filipino.

Whatever the case, the tribe owns a major portion of the Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Florida, whom Sayoc claimed to work for. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel hosted an American Top Team MMA event in March of this year, a team Sayoc was a fan of.

Throughout his Twitter posts, Sayoc cites that the American Top Team MMA, the Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos and especially the Seminole Tribe as backers of his political beliefs – using such terms as “We Unconquered Seminole Tribe agree” – but all of these organizations have denied any connection with Sayoc including that he was ever employed with them at any time.

His Twitter is mostly repetitive. He’d often tweet the same thing over dozen times at different organizations in bursts. Still, Sayoc had a following on Twitter.  By the time his Twitter was taken down, he had amassed almost 2,000 followers. I reached out to many of followers to see what they knew about him. Most didn’t respond while others said they followed him after news of his arrest and still others said they weren’t even aware that they had been following him.

One of them, however, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, had something more to say. He told me that he started following Sayoc several months before his arrest after losing contact with him on “various IFNB forums.” When I asked him what an IFNB forum was, he explained that they were, “nude body builder forums.” He said, “A lot of Florida strippers are deep into nudist body building and Fascistly against all clothmos.” A clothmo as he would later explain is “a derogatory term for non-nudist using mixing (sic) the term globohomo and clothed.” Globohomo is a term often used by far-right groups to describe the left.

IFNB stands for the International Federation of Nude Bodybuilders. It claims to be an underground organization of extreme bodybuilders that hosts competitions of sexual and physical feats all over the world. My source mentioned that Sayoc was outraged when one of the IFNB competitors was supposedly caught cheating in one of their competitions in 2015, believing it was a plot by the government to destroy the sport. However, the competitions discussed never happened but are a part of fictional stories that are accompanied by photoshopped illustrations.

My source sent a link to the blog which features these stories. It describes the IFNB as “…the arena where the most perfect men in the world come to be declared their rightful titles as gods among men.” Later the site adds, “A man who presumes his superiority is untouchable here.  While arrogance is a weakness in lesser men, these perfect physical specimens of the male form are, indeed, just plain better than other guys.” For many in the community, the sport is secondary to what they see as nude bodybuilding’s true purpose; becoming a god in a politically correct, left leaning world that suppresses true, brute masculinity.

Some of the memes that my source said Sayoc posted on the IFNB forums suggest this. One is a picture of him at a Trump rally except his pro-Trump clothes are scribbled over and his “Welcome President Trump” sign is replaced with a sign which reads “I will not wear it!” In another, a cartoon man with an incredibly long penis labeled “IFNB” runs across a field while a cop labeled “clothmo” watches in shock.

side by side.jpg

According to my source, Sayoc doctored this photo taken at a Trump rally and made it a meme about IFNB.

My source told me that Sayoc’s posts often indicated a more extreme version of the IFNB lifestyle. “…seems like he was starting to gravitate to a more radical faction that wanted to oppose what they called Clothmo Occupational Government,” he said. The belief of this radical faction (as far as I understood it) is that the government is trying to drown out true manliness and urgently needs to be stopped for men to take their rightful place in society. A rhetoric of equality is in direct opposition of this idea. To say that a man can take his place as a god among mortals is to say that there is no equality. The strongest of men – and only men – have dominance over lesser peoples. For Sayoc that was the way the world should operate as opposed to a world with fairness for all humanity regardless of strength and gender.

Thus, nude building acts as something bigger than internet fantasy. Rather, it is a pathway to a greater mythic narrative.

The Bronze Age Pervert

When I asked my source when Sayoc’s posts became more political, he said he wasn’t sure but that Sayoc “seemed pretty jaded prior to leaving forums and after reading BAP book.” “I guess it really resonated with him,” he said.

BAP or Bronze Age Pervert is a Twitter personality who wrote a book called Bronze Age Mindset back in June of this year which explored what it means to be a true man in a world of those he deems mindless robots. In the prologue of the book, he says he writes to save the reader from “a great ugliness”; the kind which can be found in photos of Hillary Clinton and Adam Schiff “with his eyes bugged out on stims and antidepressants or whatever.” He compares the modern man to Empedocles standing on the edge of the volcano Aetna, preparing to jump in and be reborn as a god. The true man according to the Bronze Age Pervert is like the Stone Age man who hunts lions and returns with the mane on his back to be worshipped by his people.

Twitter Bomb

The mythos which surrounds the Bronze Age Pervert in far-right communities across the internet is uncanny. When Rosie Gray, a journalist with the Atlantic, asked Curtis Yarvin, a controversial pro-authoritarian blogger, about his supposed contact with then White House Chief Strategist, Steven Bannon, he said that he communicated with Bannon through an intermediary inside the White House and that that intermediary was the Bronze Age Pervert.

“I know nothing about BAP personally, except that he lifts.  DM him. He may not give you any info but he always responds,” Yarvin told the Atlantic. “Apparently there’s a big underground movement of right-wing bodybuilders — thousands.  Their plan is to surface spectacularly this April, in a choreographed flash demo on the Mall.  They’ll be totally nude, but wearing MAGA hats.  Goal is to intimidate Congress with pure masculine show of youth, energy.  Trump is said to know, will coordinate with powerful EOs…”

It’s highly unlikely that the Bronze Age Pervert works or ever worked in the White House. Yarvin had already denied having any contact with Bannon as of this interveiw and Gray even wrote in her article that she believed that Yarvin was trying to “troll” her. Nonetheless, the seed is planted in the minds of the Bronze Age Pervert’s followers that their philosopher meme king operates in the highest echelons of American government.

President Trump and the Great Mythic Narrative

The Bronze Age Pervert does not talk about the President very often. Most of the time he is suggesting that women be reduced to breeding stocks or claiming that Jordan Peterson plagiarized his suggestion of enforced monogamy. He also posts plenty of pictures of shirtless, chiseled, white men. But when he does talk about the President, he calls him a king and ties him effortlessly into his mythic understanding of manhood. In order to hide his identity, he spoke to podcaster, Nicholas J Fuentes, through an intermediary, Mike Ma, messaging Ma his answers to Fuentes’ questions. While I can’t confirm whether these words came from the Bronze Age Pervert, I can confirm that he shared a link to the podcast on his Twitter, saying that he enjoyed it. In it, he said that he thought the President embodied the bronze age mindset and compared him to a warrior from the Iliad thrusting a spear toward an enemy.

Thus, the link between President Trump and the world of gods, kings and warriors is made by the Bronze Age Pervert; a world that according to my source had a significant effect on Sayoc.

On one hand, it’s not difficult to see why the President would appeal to people like Sayoc or the Bronze Age Prevent.

Firstly, he has demonstrated an appreciation for raw masculinity and brute strength. For example, he asked a crowd to “knock the crap” out of a tomato-throwing heckler. He claimed that he’d be a better president than Hillary Clinton because of his “physical stamina.” He clarified that his penis is well-sized in response to a petty joke made by then-opponent, Marco Rubio.

Secondly, the President hesitates to condemn far-right groups when they publicly identify with him. For example, when Jake Tapper confronted the President (then candidate) about former Klansmen, David Duke’s, endorsement, the President said he would need to “do research” before condemning Duke or the KKK or any group.

On the other hand, it is difficult to entirely blame the President for being dragged into this narrative.  The Seminole Tribe, Hard Rock Hotel and the American Top Team MMA were a part of the cast of characters in Sayoc’s ever unraveling narrative and they certainly didn’t do anything to belong there.

The real question for Americans is what to do when these delusional men broadcast their violent fantasies online for the world to see.

Do we act before or after the crime is committed?

The answer could be crucial should the next bombs be set to blow.

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