UnaBomber


"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",