January 5, 2023 marked two years since an unknown subject (“unsub” in FBI parlance) placed two functioning pipe bombs in Washington, D.C.: the first by the Democratic National Committee building and minutes later the second by the Republican National Committee building. According to Steven D’Antuono, at the time the assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office, “They (the pipe bombs) are viable devices that could have gone off and exploded, causing a lot of serious injury or death.” If D’Antuono’s name rings a bell, it is likely due to his overseeing the FBI Detroit field office during the bizarre kidnapping sting operation involving Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Or perhaps because he decided to suddenly retire just a few months ago, which also made the news.

Disclaimer: I was an FBI special agent from 1985 until 1990, so I don’t claim to have insight into every phase and aspect of a federal investigation, especially one as unique as this. But after a law enforcement career spanning 30+ years, I have concerns about the perception of a lack of investigative zeal in this case.

To put this crime into perspective, these bombs were built and placed to kill and maim people indiscriminately: politicians on either side of the aisle, civilians, and law enforcement. The purpose was apparently to create terror and cause pandemonium on the morning of January 6, 2021. Remember that in a court of law, the penalty for the attempt to commit a crime is the same as the penalty for the commission of that crime. The fact that the bombs were discovered prior to detonation is irrelevant. What is unique about this act was the fact the bomber was an equal opportunity terrorist: the actor was content to kill, maim or injure the Right, the Left, or the Independent, showing mercy to no one. The attempted attacks were not so much non-partisan as they were anti-government.

The first red flag with this investigation is how little attention it has been given or has received. It is atypical of the FBI to not seek the public’s assistance repeatedly when a case has gone cold. It would seem this case is beginning to suffer from hypothermia. Oddly, the media appears indifferent when compared to the focus (some would say obsession) on the January 6 protest. For those of us old enough to remember, when Ted Kaczynski – “The Unabomber” – was active in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, there seemed to be a steady stream of composite sketches, behavioral profiles, and reward updates by the FBI. Granted, there were deaths and injuries from what appeared to be a perplexingly random series of bombings, but there was no escaping the regular public appeal through the media for tips. In contrast, I can’t recall the last time I saw a news story or update on this case. It would seem this investigation has drifted into “The Doldrums”, a nautical term describing the equatorial band of sea where old-time sailing ships would languish for weeks on end due to “windless waters”.

Next, the reward. The FBI has traditionally been very generous when posting rewards for priority cases or vexing investigations. This time, curiously, they have become parsimonious. Why? Initially, the reward was a measly $50,000; chump change by FBI standards. Then, it was incrementally increased to $75,000. After more than two years with no results, it is now $100K. Contrast that with the reward the FBI is posting for cyber-criminal Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev. He is, In other words, an electronic white-collar crime crook. The reward for Bogachev is a jaw-dropping $3 million. Bizarrely, the reward for the Washington D.C. bomber is a mere 3.3% of what is being offered for an international computer criminal.

Next, video footage. The Washington D.C. area is one of the most heavily electronically surveilled areas in the country. The numerous and varied government buildings, embassies, national monuments, museums, metro stations and tourist attractions all have extensive video camera surveillance, not to mention the proliferation of Ring doorbells and home security systems. The “unsub” had to get to the area in some manner, such as a rideshare, taxi, bus, car, or metro stop. The hour of the day (early evening) makes it that much easier to track someone due to the light pedestrian traffic. Yet, the FBI admits they are not even sure to this day as to the gender of the “unsub”!

In many high-profile FBI investigations where there was no clear suspect, the vaunted Behavioral Analysis Unit headquartered in Quantico, VA would prepare a profile of the suspect based upon a variety of factors, such as the crime scene location, recovered evidence, physical description, and suspected motivation. Granted, it is both science and art and therefore fallible (think Richard Jewell and the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics bombing investigation). Still, I suspect the BAU has been consulted by this point, yet no profile has been publicly released that I am aware of.

Finally, the actual investigation. The FBI has recovered two unexploded pipe bombs, which in theory should hold a forensic treasure trove of physical evidence: the threaded pipes, the end caps, the timing devices, the alligator clips, the tape, the wires, and the black powder. All these items were sold, made, or obtained somewhere. The FBI and their lab used to excel at unraveling this type of evidence and tracing these items to their origin. Every IED (improvised explosive device), bomb or booby trap has a unique design or what is referred to as its “signature”; not as individual as a fingerprint, but often unique enough to make it almost proprietary. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives maintains a database of bomb designs and are experts in knowing how to reverse engineer explosive devices. This was one of the ways Ted Kaczynski was linked to all his bombings, even though he modified his designs and the bombings occurred over a seventeen-year span in eight states.

With all of the money, time, and media coverage devoted to the January 6 “insurrection” or “protest” – depending on your particular point of view – why so little attention given to January 5? Neither political party, nor apparently the FBI, seems interested in the event. Last year I happened across more newspaper and magazine articles on the fifty-year old cases of the Zodiac killer or the hijacker D.B. Cooper than on the attempted bombings just two years ago.

The FBI is in dire need of a “win”, when one considers all the criticism that has been heaped upon it over a number of recent controversial investigations, searches and arrests (there is no need to recount all of them if you have been paying attention). I hope the FBI will re-focus its attention on this vexing matter, engage the public more, up the reward to a million dollars, and “get their man” (or woman). The public needs to be reassured the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still up to the task of solving violent crime, stopping terrorism, and keeping Americans safe; solving this case would go a long way toward that goal.

Greg Dillon is the author of “The Thin Blue Lie: An Honest Cop vs. The FBI”. He served as an FBI agent in VA and WDC during part of his 30 year law enforcement career.