Crimes Of The '90s

A Short History Of The Unabomber, Who Terrorized The Nation With Mail Bombs For 17 Years

He killed three people and injured 23 with his deadly mail bombs.

The Unabomber, the target of the FBI’s longest and most expensive investigation, was arrested in 1996 after terrorizing the United States for decades. He killed three people and injured 23 between 1978 and 1995 with homemade mail bombs.

Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, was a mathematical child prodigy who abandoned a promising career in 1969. He entered Harvard at age 16 and finished his doctorate by age 25. By 1971, he moved to a remote cabin in Montana that had no electricity or running water and began living as a recluse.

Kaczynski watched the wilderness around his cabin be destroyed by real estate developers and it triggered a deep-seated rage from within him. He concluded it was impossible to live in nature anymore. And, he began seeking out “retribution” for it.

In a 1999 prison interview he said, “It's kind of rolling country, not flat, and when you get to the edge of it you find these ravines that cut very steeply into cliff-like drop-offs and there was even a waterfall there. It was about a two days' hike from my cabin. That was the best spot until the summer of 1983. That summer there were too many people around my cabin so I decided I needed some peace. I went back to the plateau and when I got there I found they had put a road right through the middle of it ... You just can't imagine how upset I was. It was from that point on I decided that, rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system. Revenge.”

In 1978 he began his “bombing campaign.” Kaczynski started mailing out, and sometimes hand delivering, sophisticated mail bombs handcrafted with wood and pipes and later batteries. In the deadly packages, he often left clues that were meant to be misleading. He targeted people who were involved with modern technology. He hated industrialization.

His first bomb was mailed to Buckley Crist, a professor of materials engineering at Northwestern University. The package exploded and injured Marker's left hand. Kaczynski then sent bombs to airline officials. In 1979, Kaczynski snuck a bomb into the cargo hold of an airplane. It went off mid-flight, but thankfully didn’t kill anyone. The pilot was able to perform an emergency landing, according to TIME. Twelve passengers suffered smoke inhalation. In total, he sent out 16 bombs.

While trying to figure out the terrorist’s identity, the FBI called him “UNABOM.” The “UN” referred to the first two letters in University, reports Biography. A UNABOM Task Force was created and they offered a $1 million reward to anyone who gave information leading to the Unabomber’s arrest, but that wouldn’t happen until the 1990s after after many other bombs, deaths and injuries.

In 1994, Kaczynski killed Burson-Marsteller executive Thomas J. Mosser by mailing a bomb to his home. In a  letter to The New York Times, Kaczynski said he killed Mosser because Burston-Marsteller helped Exxon clean up its public image after the the Exxon Valdez incident. In 1995, the unabomber killed Gilbert Brent Murray, president of the timber industry lobbying group California Forestry Association. The Unabomber was a true American nightmare.

In 1995, Kaczynski sent a letter to The New York Times which promised to "desist from terrorism" if the either they or The Washington Post published his 35,000-word manifesto entitled Industrial Society and Its Future, according to Rolling Stone. In his rambling manifesto, he claimed that his bombings were a necessary evil required to bring attention to the erosion of human freedom by modern technologies. The FBI pushed for the publication of that manifesto which actually led to Kaczynski’s capture. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post published his words, according to the NYT. The manifesto’s publication put an end to Kaczynski’s terror. His brother and sister-and-law recognized his style and contacted the FBI.

In 1998 Kaczynski pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Although his actions have been universally condemned, his stance his anti-technology stance has oddly received praise.

"His work, despite his deeds deserves a place alongside Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and 1984, by George Orwell,”  Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team wrote.

According to Salon, Andrew Sodroski, executive producer of the Discovery mini-series, Manhunt: Unabomber, said, "What the manifesto has to say about our relationship with technology and with society is more true right now than it was when Ted published it."

[Photo: Getty Images]

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