The student, a 20 year-old named Eldo Kim, sent emails stating that several bombs had been put around the campus. He informed the police of this, as well as two university officials and the president of the student newspaper.
The emails stated that shrapnel bombs would be detonated in two buildings. One of them was the building where Kim was going to take an exam the next day. The buildings were closed for several hours before police discovered there were no bombs.
Kim lives in Cambridge MA and is going to make his first court appearance on Wednesday this week.
Investigators from the MA state police searched the Harvard buildings for several hours and determined there were no bombs.
Harvard stated that it was saddened about the fake bombing incident but did not have further comment.
An affidavit from the FBI filed this week found that Kim had gone onto TOR, which is a free Internet site that assigns a temporary and anonymous Internet protocol address, which uses Harvard’s wireless network.
Kim told an FBI agent that he acted alone and sent the message to five or six random addresses at Harvard.
He sent the emails about 30 minutes before he was to take his final exam. He was in the building at 9 am when the fire alarm went off, so he knew his plot had succeeded.
Kim told the FBI that he sent the emails from his laptop with TOR and Guerrilla Mail. That is a free Internet app that creates an anonymous email address.
His roommate told police that Kim is a smart person, but his digital acts led them to his dorm room within mere hours of the hoax. He wrote in the emails that the bombs had shrapnel in them to make it sound more dangerous. And he also wrote that there were bombs in two of the four buildings he named, and he wanted the police to guess.
Some students couldn’t believe that Kim thought he could send an untraceable email over the Harvard network.
According to Kim’s Linkedin profile, he is an undergraduate at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. That department’s website states that he works as a research assistant, and has worked for a professor that analyzes ‘partisan taunting.’
The maximum penalty according to federal sentencing guidelines for a bomb hoax is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. It is expected that federal authorities will prosecute the student harshly, particularly in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing this year.