"The world today seems to be going crazy": The Unabomber\'s Manifesto


It was May 25th 1978, Terry Marker was on his usual patrol on campus at
the University of Illinois. This earmark package, addressed to an engineering
professor at Rensselaer from a material science professor at Northwestern, was
found in a parking lot. What seemed like an insignificant misplaced parcel was
about to start a reign of terror and the longest manhunt in U.S. history.
Officer Marker retrieved the package and began to open it; the crude triggering
mechanism set off the device. A flash of fire and smoke spewed towards Terry\'s
face as the match heads ignited and the mystery package exploded. This event
sparked the "most expensive manhunt in United States history, ultimately costing
upward to $50 million" (Douglas, 31). The reasoning behind this initial attack
(and subsequent assaults) was not known for sure until 15 years later in 1993,
when the Unabomber\'s anti-technology philosophy became public.
The Unabomber\'s 18 year tirade against technology killed three people
and maimed 23 others in a series of 16 attacks dating back to 1978. The
Unabomber\'s targets were universities and airlines (thus the "un" and the "a" in
the FBI\'s code name); proponents of technology. The Unabomber believes that the
present industrial-technological society is "narrowing the sphere of human
freedom" (Unabomber, 93).
The crudeness of the Unabomber\'s inaugural mail bomb attack was not an
indication of what was to come. The Unabomber\'s devices became more
sophisticated and deadly as his targets became more specific and focused. "The
pressure vessels in his bombs were the most sophisticated ever seen by federal
authorities" (Ewell, 3). His later efforts were sometimes concealed in books
and hand-carved boxes, had all hancrafted parts carved of wood and metal (he
made his own pins, screws and switches), and sometimes had altimeter and
barometric switches which would activate at precise altitudes in an airplane.
Bombs, like the one planted outside of a computer store in Sacramento, were
sometimes fitted with gravity triggers which would detonate the bomb at the
slightest touch. Later bombs contained two independent systems of batteries and
wires, a backup fail-safe mechanism, installed to ensure the bombs detonation.
The crime scene analyses suggested that each bomb "took more than a hundred
hours to construct" (Douglas, 56).
The bombs were getting deadlier as the Unabomber\'s skill level evolved.
FBI agent James Fox says "This guy\'s done a wonderful job in self-education
(Gleick, 26). On April 24, 1995, Gilbert Murray, president of the California
Forestry Association, died instantly when a bomb exploded in his office in
Sacramento. The force of the blast was so great that it pushed nails partly out
of the walls in other offices in the building. The force of the explosion was
so great that the pieces of Murray\'s body; when retrieved, filled eleven bags.
Evidence was presented to the coroner in paint cans. Some bombs like the one
that killed Hugh Sutton, a computer store owner, was filled with pieces of nails
to maximize the devastation to the victim. He also became more devious by
targeting either the person to whom the package was sent or the person who
supposedly sent it. If the package didn\'t make it to its intended victim it
would be sent back to an alternate one.
The Unabomber left very few clues at the crime scenes. He was a
meticulous criminal, "these components bear markings of having been taken apart
and put back together repeatedly" said Chris Ronay, the FBI\'s top bomb expert in
the 1980\'s (Anez, 2 ). All addresses were typed on an arcane typewriter to
confound handwriting analyses. He hand crafted most of the parts that made up
his bombs because of the possibility of tracing store bought parts back to a
hardware store or electronics store. He made his own chemicals out of commonly
available chemicals. He made his own switches that he could have bought at
Radio Shack. He spent hours whittling, cutting, and filing metal and wood to
remove any hints of their origin. He would repeatedly sand down all the wooden
parts to his devices to remove any possible fingerprints and make the boxes that
encased his bombs look store bought. The FBI Crime Lab originally nicknamed him
the "Junkyard Bomber" because the internal parts were constructed of leftover
materials such as furniture pieces , plumbing pipes, and sinktraps.
Across the continent, hundreds of FBI agents were pursuing the Unabomber.
They have deployed some of the worlds most powerful computers. Task Force
members crunched and recrunched scraps of data through a "massive parallel-
processing computer borrowed from the Pentagon", sifting though