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Theodore John KACZYNSKI






A.K.A.: "Unabomber"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: "Domestic terrorist" - Mail bombing spree that spanned nearly 20 years
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1985 / 1994 / 1995
Date of arrest: April 3, 1996
Date of birth: May 22, 1942
Victims profile: Hugh Scrutton, 38 (computer rental store owner) / Thomas J. Mosser, 50 (advertising executive) / Gilbert P. Murray (timber industry lobbyist)
Method of murder: Explosives  (homemade bombs)
Location: California/New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to four life terms in prison on May 5, 1998
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2 photo gallery 3



Dr. Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski (born May 22, 1942), also known as the Unabomber (University and Airline Bomber), is an American mathematician and social critic, who engaged in a mail bombing spree that spanned nearly 20 years, killing three people and injuring 23 others.

He was born in Chicago, Illinois, where, as an intellectual child prodigy, he excelled academically from an early age. Kaczynski was accepted into Harvard University at the age of 16, where he earned an undergraduate degree, and later earned a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He became an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley at age 25 but resigned two years later.

In 1971, he moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water, in Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. He decided to start a bombing campaign after watching the wilderness around his home being destroyed by development.

From 1978 to 1995, Kaczynski sent 16 bombs to targets including universities and airlines, killing three people and injuring 23. Kaczynski sent a letter to The New York Times on April 24, 1995 and promised "to desist from terrorism" if the Times or The Washington Post published his manifesto. In his Industrial Society and Its Future (also called the "Unabomber Manifesto"), he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom necessitated by modern technologies requiring large-scale organization.

The Unabomber was the target of one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) most costly investigations. Before Kaczynski's identity was known, the FBI used the handle "UNABOM" ("UNiversity and Airline BOMber") to refer to his case, which resulted in the media calling him the Unabomber. Despite the FBI's efforts, he was not caught as a result of this investigation. Instead, his brother recognized Kaczynski's style of writing and beliefs from the manifesto, and tipped off the FBI. Kaczynski's lawyers were court appointed, but he eventually dismissed them because they wanted to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, and Kaczynski did not believe he was insane. Once it was sure that he would be defending himself on national television the court entered a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Theodore Kaczynski has been designated a "domestic terrorist" by the FBI. Some anarchist authors, such as John Zerzan and John Moore, have come to his defense, while holding some reservations about his actions and ideas.

Early life

Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to second-generation Polish Americans Wanda (née Dombek) and Theodore Richard Kaczynski. At six-months of age, Ted's body was covered in hives. He was placed in isolation in a hospital where visitors were not allowed. Treatment continued for eight months. His mother wrote in March 1943, "Baby home from hospital and is healthy but quite unresponsive after his experience."

From grades one through four, Kaczynski attended Sherman Elementary School in Chicago. He attended grades five through eight at Evergreen Park Central School. As a result of testing conducted in the fifth grade which determined he had an IQ of 167, he was allowed to skip the sixth grade and enroll in the seventh grade. Kaczynski described this as a pivotal event in his life. He recalled not fitting in with the older children and being subjected to their bullying. As a child, Kaczynski had a fear of people and buildings, and played beside other children rather than interacting with them. His mother was so worried by his poor social development that she considered entering him in a study for autistic children led by Bruno Bettelheim.

He attended high school at Evergreen Park Community High School. Kaczynski excelled academically, but found the mathematics too simple during his sophomore year. During this period of his life, Kaczynski became obsessed with mathematics, spending prolonged hours locked in his room practicing differential equations instead of socializing with his peers. Throughout secondary schooling Kaczynski had far surpassed his classmates, able to solve advanced Laplace Transforms before his senior year. He was subsequently placed in a more advanced mathematics class, yet still felt intellectually restricted. Kaczynski soon mastered the material and skipped the eleventh grade. With the help of a summer school course for English, he completed his high school education when he was 15 years old. He was encouraged to apply to Harvard University, and was subsequently accepted as a student beginning in fall 1958 at the age of 16. While at Harvard, Kaczynski was taught by famed logician Willard Van Orman Quine, scoring at the top of Quine's class with a 98.9% final grade.

He also participated in a multiple-year personality study conducted by Dr. Henry Murray, an expert on stress interviews. Students in Murray's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored study were told they would be debating personal philosophy with a fellow student. Instead they were subjected to a "purposely brutalizing psychological experiment" stress test, which was an extremely stressful, personal, and prolonged psychological attack. During the test, students were taken into a room, strapped into a chair and connected to electrodes that monitored their physiological reactions, while facing bright lights and a two-way mirror.

Each student had previously written an essay detailing their personal beliefs and aspirations: the essays were turned over to an anonymous attorney, who would enter the room and individually belittle each strapped-down student based in part on the disclosures they had made. This was filmed, and students' expressions of impotent rage were played back to them several times later in the study. According to author Alston Chase, Kaczynski's records from that period suggest he was emotionally stable when the study began.

Kaczynski's lawyers attributed some of his emotional instability and dislike of mind control to his participation in this study. Indeed, some have suggested that this experience may have been instrumental in Kaczynski's future actions.


Kaczynski graduated from Harvard University in 1962 and subsequently enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned a PhD in mathematics. Kaczynski's specialty was a branch of complex analysis known as geometric function theory. His professors at Michigan were impressed with his intellect and drive. "He was an unusual person. He was not like the other graduate students," said Peter Duren, one of Kaczynski's math professors at Michigan. "He was much more focused about his work. He had a drive to discover mathematical truth." "It is not enough to say he was smart," said George Piranian, another of his Michigan math professors. In fact, Kaczynski earned his Ph.D. with his thesis entitled "Boundary Functions" by solving a problem so difficult that Piranian could not figure it out.

Maxwell Reade, a retired math professor who served on Kaczynski's dissertation committee, also commented on his thesis by noting, "I would guess that maybe 10 or 12 men in the country understood or appreciated it."

In 1967, Kaczynski won the University of Michigan's $100 Sumner B. Myers Prize, which recognized his dissertation as the school's best in mathematics that year. While a graduate student at Michigan, he held a National Science Foundation fellowship and taught undergraduates for three years. He also published two articles related to his dissertation in mathematical journals, and four more after leaving Michigan later.

In the fall of 1967, Kaczynski became an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught undergraduate courses in geometry and calculus. He was also noted as the youngest professor ever hired by the university. This position proved short-lived, however, as Kaczynski received numerous complaints and low ratings from the undergraduates he taught. Many students noted that he seemed quite uncomfortable in a teaching environment, often stuttering and mumbling during lectures, becoming excessively nervous in front of a class, and ignoring students during designated office hours.

Without explanation, he resigned from his position in 1969, at age 26. The chairman of the mathematics department, J. W. Addison, called this a "sudden and unexpected" resignation, while vice chairman Calvin Moore said that given Kaczynski's "impressive" thesis and record of publications, "He could have advanced up the ranks and been a senior member of the faculty today."

Life in Montana

In summer 1971, Kaczynski moved into his parents' small residence in Lombard, Illinois. Two years later, he moved into a remote cabin he built himself just outside Lincoln, Montana where he lived a simple life on very little money, without electricity or running water. Kaczynski worked odd jobs and received financial support from his family, which he used to purchase his land and, without their knowledge, would later use to fund his bombing campaign.

In 1978, he worked briefly with his father and brother at a foam-rubber factory, where he was fired by his brother, David, for harassing a female supervisor he had previously dated.

Kaczynski's original goal was to move out to a secluded place and become self-sufficient so that he could live autonomously. He began to teach himself survival skills such as tracking, edible plant identification, and how to construct primitive technologies such as bow drills. However, he quickly realized that it was not possible for him to live that way, as a result of watching the wild land around him get destroyed by development and industry.

He performed isolated acts of sabotage initially, targeted at the developments near his cabin. The ultimate catalyst which drove him to begin his campaign of bombings was when he went out for a walk to one of his favorite wild spots, only to find that it had been destroyed and replaced with a road. About this, he said:

The best place, to me, was the largest remnant of this plateau that dates from the tertiary age. 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 in to 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" His voice trails off; he pauses, then continues, "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."
—Ted Kaczynski,

He began dedicating himself to reading about sociology and books on political philosophy, such as the works of Jacques Ellul, and also stepped up his campaign of sabotage. He soon came to the conclusion that more violent methods would be the only solution to what he saw as the problem of industrial civilization. He says that he lost faith in the idea of reform, and saw violent collapse as the only way to bring down the techno-industrial system. About the idea of a reformist means of taking it down, he said:

I don't think it can be done. In part because of the human tendency, for most people, there are exceptions, to take the path of least resistance. They'll take the easy way out, and giving up your car, your television set, your electricity, is not the path of least resistance for most people. As I see it, I don't think there is any controlled or planned way in which we can dismantle the industrial system. I think that the only way we will get rid of it is if it breaks down and collapses ... The big problem is that people don't believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible. To a large extent I think the eco-anarchist movement is accomplishing a great deal, but I think they could do it better... The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers… And I think that it would be good if a conscious effort was being made to get as many people as possible introduced to the wilderness. In a general way, I think what has to be done is not to try and convince or persuade the majority of people that we are right, as much as try to increase tensions in society to the point where things start to break down. To create a situation where people get uncomfortable enough that they’re going to rebel. So the question is how do you increase those tensions?
—Ted Kaczynski,


Initial bombings

Kaczynski's activities came to the attention of the FBI in 1978 with the explosion of his first, primitive homemade bomb. Over the next 17 years, he mailed or hand delivered a series of increasingly sophisticated explosive devices that killed three people and injured 24 more.

The first mail bomb was sent in late May 1978 to materials engineering professor Buckley Crist at Northwestern University. The package was found in a parking lot at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with Crist's return address. The package was "returned" to Crist. However, when Crist received the package, he noticed that it was not addressed in his own handwriting. Suspicious of a package he had not sent, he contacted campus policeman Terry Marker, who opened the package, which exploded immediately. Although Marker only received minimal injuries, he required medical assistance at Evanston Hospital for his left hand.

The bomb was made of metal that could have come from a home workshop. The primary component was a piece of metal pipe, about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter and 9 inches (230 mm) long. The bomb contained smokeless explosive powders, and the box and the plugs that sealed the pipe ends were handcrafted from wood. In comparison, most pipe bombs usually use threaded metal ends sold in many hardware stores. Wooden ends lack the strength to allow significant pressure to build within the pipe, explaining why the bomb did not cause severe damage. The primitive trigger device that the bomb employed was a nail, tensioned by rubber bands designed to slam into six common match heads when the box was opened. The match heads would immediately burst into flame and ignite the explosive powders. However, when the trigger hit the match heads, only three ignited. A more efficient technique, later employed by Kaczynski, is to use batteries and heat filament wire to ignite the explosives faster and more effectively.

The initial 1978 bombing was followed by bombs sent to airline officials, and in 1979 a bomb was placed in the cargo hold of American Airlines Flight 444, a Boeing 727 flying from Chicago to Washington, D.C. The bomb began smoking, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. Some passengers were treated for smoke inhalation. Only a faulty timing mechanism prevented the bomb from exploding. Authorities said it had enough firepower to "obliterate the plane."

As bombing an airliner is a federal crime in the United States, the FBI became involved after this incident and derived the code name UNABOM (UNiversity and Airline BOMber). U.S. Postal Inspectors, who initially had the case, called the suspect the Junkyard Bomber because of the material used to make the mail bombs.

In 1979, an FBI-led task force that included the ATF and U.S. Postal Inspection Service was formed to investigate the case. The task force would grow to more than 150 full-time investigators, analysts, and others. This team made every possible forensic examination of recovered components of the explosives and studied the lives of victims in minute detail. These efforts proved of little use in identifying the suspect, who built his bombs essentially from "scrap" materials available almost anywhere. The victims, investigators later learned, were chosen irregularly from library research.

In 1980, chief agent John Douglas, working with agents in the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, issued a psychological profile of the unidentified bomber which described the offender as a man with above-average intelligence with connections to academia. This profile was later refined to characterize the offender as a neo-Luddite holding an academic degree in the hard sciences, but this psychologically based profile was discarded in 1983 in favor of an alternative theory developed by FBI analysts concentrating on the physical evidence in recovered bomb fragments. In this rival profile, the bomber suspect was characterized as a blue-collar airplane mechanic. A 1-800 hot line was set up by the UNABOM Task Force to take any calls related to the Unabomber investigation, with a $1 million reward for anyone who could provide information leading to the Unabomber's capture.


The first serious injury occurred in 1985, when John Hauser, a graduate student and Captain in the United States Air Force, lost four fingers and vision in one eye. The bomb, like others of Kaczynski's, was handcrafted and made with wooden parts.

Hugh Scrutton, a 38-year-old California computer store owner, was killed in 1985 by a nail-and-splinter-loaded bomb placed in the parking lot of his store. A similar attack against a computer store occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 20, 1987. The bomb, which was disguised as a piece of lumber, injured Gary Wright when he attempted to remove it from the store's parking lot. The explosion severed nerves in Wright's left arm and propelled more than 200 pieces of shrapnel into his body.

Kaczynski's brother, David—who would play a vital role in Ted's looming capture by alerting federal authorities to the prospect of his brother being involved in the Unabomber cases— sought out and became friends with Wright after Ted was detained in 1996. David Kaczynski and Wright have remained friends and occasionally speak together publicly about their reconciliation.

After a six-year hiatus, Kaczynski struck again in 1993, mailing a bomb to David Gelernter, a computer science professor at Yale University. Though critically injured, Gelernter eventually recovered. Another bomb mailed in the same weekend was sent to the home of geneticist Charles Epstein from University of California, San Francisco, who lost multiple fingers upon opening it. Kaczynski then called Gelernter's brother, Joel Gelernter, a behavioral geneticist, and told him, "You are next." Geneticist Phillip Sharp at Massachusetts Institute of Technology also received a threatening letter two years later.

Kaczynski wrote a letter to The New York Times claiming that his "group", called FC, was responsible for the attacks.

In 1994, Burson-Marsteller executive Thomas J. Mosser was killed by a mail bomb sent to his North Caldwell, New Jersey home. In another letter to The New York Times Kaczynski claimed that FC "blew up Thomas Mosser because [...] Burston-Marsteller [sic] helped Exxon clean up its public image after the Exxon Valdez incident" and, more importantly, because "its business is the development of techniques for manipulating people's attitudes." This was followed by the 1995 murder of Gilbert Murray, president of the timber industry lobbying group California Forestry Association, by a mail bomb actually addressed to previous president William Dennison, who had retired.

In all, 16 bombs—which injured 23 people and killed three—were attributed to Kaczynski. While the devices varied widely through the years, all but the first few contained the initials "FC". Inside his bombs, certain parts carried the inscription "FC", which Kaczynski later asserted stood for "Freedom Club". Latent fingerprints on some of the devices did not match the fingerprints found on letters attributed to Kaczynski. As stated in the FBI affidavit:

203. Latent fingerprints attributable to devices mailed and/or placed by the UNABOM subject were compared to those found on the letters attributed to Theodore Kaczynski. According to the FBI Laboratory no forensic correlation exists between those samples.

One of Kaczynski's tactics was leaving false clues in every bomb. He would make them hard to find so as to purposely mislead investigators into thinking they had a clue. The first clue was a metal plate stamped with the initials "FC" hidden somewhere (usually in the pipe end cap) in every bomb. One false clue he left was a note in a bomb that did not detonate which reads "Wu—It works! I told you it would—RV". A more obvious clue was the Eugene O'Neill $1 stamps used to send his boxes. One of his bombs was sent embedded in a copy of Sloan Wilson’s novel Ice Brothers.

The FBI theorized that Kaczynski had a theme of nature, trees and wood in his crimes. He often included bits of tree branch and bark in his bombs. Targets selected included Percy Wood, Professor Leroy Wood Bearson and Thomas Mosser. Crime writer Robert Graysmith noted "In the Unabomber's case a large factor was his obsession with wood."

List of bombings


Date Location Victim(s) Injuries
March 25-26, 1978 Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois campus police officer Terry Marker minor
May 9, 1979 Northwestern University graduate student John Harris slight
November 15, 1979 Chicago, Illinois 12 American Airlines passengers smoke inhalation
June 10, 1980 Chicago, Illinois United Airlines President Percy Wood cuts and burns
October 8, 1981 University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah none - bomb defused  
May 5, 1982 Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee university secretary Janet Smith minor
July 2, 1982 University of California, Berkeley, California Professor Diogenes Angelakos right hand and face; near-complete recovery
May 15, 1985 University of California, Berkeley graduate student John Hauser partial loss of vision in left eye, loss of four fingers on right hand
June 13, 1985 Auburn, Washington none - bomb defused  
November 15, 1985 Ann Arbor, Michigan two injured n/a
December 11, 1985 Sacramento, California computer rental store owner Hugh Scrutton first fatality
February 20, 1987 Salt Lake City, Utah computer store owner injured
June 22, 1993 Tiburon, California University of California geneticist Charles Epstein severe injuries
June 24, 1993 Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut computer science Professor David Gelernter right hand and right eye
December 10, 1994 North Caldwell, New Jersey advertising executive Thomas J. Mosser second death
April 24, 1995 Sacramento, California timber industry lobbyist Gilbert P. Murray third and final murder


In 1995 Kaczynski mailed several letters, including some to his former victims and others to major media outlets, outlining his goals and demanding that his 50-plus page, 35,000-word essay Industrial Society and Its Future (also called the "Unabomber Manifesto") be printed verbatim by a major newspaper or journal.

He stated that if this demand was met, he would then end his bombing campaign. The document was a densely written manifesto that called for a worldwide revolution against the effects of modern society's "industrial-technological system." There was a great deal of controversy as to whether the document should be published. A further letter threatening to kill more people was sent, and the United States Department of Justice, along with FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno, recommended publication out of concern for public safety and in hopes that a reader could identify the author. The pamphlet was then published by The New York Times and The Washington Post on September 19, 1995.

Prior to The New York Times' decision to publish the manifesto, Bob Guccione of Penthouse volunteered to publish it, but Kaczynski replied that, since Penthouse was less "respectable" than the other publications, he would in that case "reserve the right to plant one (and only one) bomb intended to kill, after our manuscript has been published."

Throughout the manuscript, produced on a typewriter without the capacity for italics, Kaczynski capitalizes entire words in order to show emphasis. He always refers to himself as either "we" or "FC" (Freedom Club), though he appears to have acted alone.[citation needed] Donald Foster, who analyzed the writing at the request of Kaczynski's defense, notes that the manuscript contains instances of irregular spelling and hyphenation, as well as other consistent linguistic idiosyncrasies (which led him to conclude that it was indeed Kaczynski who wrote it).

Industrial Society and Its Future begins with Kaczynski's assertion that "the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race." The first sections of the text are devoted to psychological analysis of various groups—primarily leftists and scientists—and of the psychological consequences for individual life within the "industrial-technological system", which has robbed contemporary humans of their autonomy, diminished their rapport with nature, and forced them "to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior." The later sections speculate about the future evolution of this system, argue that it will inevitably lead to the end of human freedom, call for a "revolution against technology", and attempt to indicate how that might be accomplished.

Psychological analysis

In his opening and closing sections, Kaczynski addresses Leftism as a movement and analyzes the psychology of leftists, arguing that they are "True Believers in Eric Hoffer's sense" who participate in a powerful social movement to compensate for their lack of personal power. He further claims that leftism as a movement is led by a particular minority of leftists whom he calls "oversocialized":

The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. [...] Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term "oversocialized" to describe such people.

He goes on to explain how the nature of leftism is determined by the psychological consequences of "oversocialization." Kaczynski "attribute[s] the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed while living under the earlier conditions." He further specifies the primary cause of a long list of social and psychological problems in modern society as the disruption of the "power process", which he defines as having four elements:

The three most clear-cut of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it autonomy and will discuss it later. [...] We divide human drives into three groups: (1) those drives that can be satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied but only at the cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be adequately satisfied no matter how much effort one makes. The power process is the process of satisfying the drives of the second group.

Kaczynski goes on to claim that "[i]n modern industrial society natural human drives tend to be pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to consist increasingly of artificially created drives." Among these drives are "surrogate activities", activities "directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the sake of the 'fulfillment' that they get from pursuing the goal". He argues that these surrogate activities are not as satisfactory as the attainment of "real goals" for "many, if not most people".

He claims that scientific research is a surrogate activity for scientists, and that for this reason "science marches on blindly, without regard to the real welfare of the human race or to any other standard, obedient only to the psychological needs of the scientists and of the government officials and corporation executives who provide the funds for research."

Analysis of control methods

As mentioned above, the result of the "disruption of the power process" is the primary cause of various maladies in society (e.g. crime, depression, etc.). Kaczynski maintains that rather than recognizing that humans currently live in "conditions that make them terribly unhappy", "the system" (i.e. industrial society) develops ways of controlling human responses to the overly stressful environment they find themselves in.

The following are current examples (according to Kaczynski) of this trend:

Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent in our own society. It is well known that the rate of clinical depression had been greatly increasing in recent decades. We believe that this is due to disruption of the power process...

The entertainment industry serves as an important psychological tool of the system, possibly even when it is dishing out large amounts of sex and violence. Entertainment provides modern man with an essential means of escape. While absorbed in television, videos, etc., he can forget stress, anxiety, frustration, dissatisfaction.

Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have had great success in motivating children to study, and psychological techniques are also used with more or less success in many conventional schools. "Parenting" techniques that are taught to parents are designed to make children accept fundamental values of the system and behave in ways that the system finds desirable.

Historical analysis

In the last sections of the manifesto, Kaczynski carefully defines what he means by freedom and provides an argument that it would "be hopelessly difficult [...] to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom".

He says that "in spite of all its technical advances relating to human behavior the system to date has not been impressively successful in controlling human beings" and predicts that "[i]f the system succeeds in acquiring sufficient control over human behavior quickly enough, it will probably survive. Otherwise it will break down" and that "the issue will most likely be resolved within the next several decades, say 40 to 100 years." He gives various dystopian possibilities for the type of society which would evolve in the former case. He claims that revolution, unlike reform, is possible, and calls on sympathetic readers to initiate such revolution using two strategies: to "heighten the social stresses within the system so as to increase the likelihood that it will break down" and to "develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology". He gives various tactical recommendations, including avoiding the assumption of political power, avoiding all collaboration with leftists, and supporting free trade agreements in order to bind the world economy into a more fragile, unified whole.

He concludes by noting that his manifesto has "portrayed leftism in its modern form as a phenomenon peculiar to our time and as a symptom of the disruption of the power process" but that he is "not in a position to assert confidently that no such movements have existed prior to modern leftism" and says that "[t]his is a significant question to which historians ought to give their attention."

Related works

As a critique of technological society, the manifesto echoed contemporary critics of technology and industrialization, such as John Zerzan, Herbert Marcuse, Fredy Perlman, Jacques Ellul (whose book The Technological Society was referenced in an unnamed Kaczynski essay, written in 1971), Lewis Mumford, and Neil Postman. Its idea of the "disruption of the power process" similarly echoed social critics emphasizing the lack of meaningful work as a primary cause of social problems, including Mumford, Paul Goodman, and Eric Hoffer (whom Kaczynski explicitly references). The general theme was also addressed by Aldous Huxley in his dystopian novel Brave New World, which Kaczynski references. The ideas of "oversocialization" and "surrogate activities" recall Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents and his theories of rationalization and sublimation (the latter term being used three times in the manifesto, twice in quotes, to describe surrogate activities).

In a Wired article on the dangers of technology, titled "Why The Future Doesn't Need Us," Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, quoted Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines, which quoted a passage by Kaczynski on types of society that might develop if human labor were entirely replaced by artificial intelligence. Joy wrote that, although Kaczynski's actions were "murderous, and, in my view, criminally insane", that "as difficult as it is for me to acknowledge, I saw some merit in the reasoning in this single passage. I felt compelled to confront it."


Before the publication of the manifesto, Theodore Kaczynski's brother, David Kaczynski, was encouraged by his wife Linda to follow up on suspicions that Ted was the Unabomber. David Kaczynski was at first dismissive, but progressively began to take the likelihood more seriously after reading the manifesto a week after it was published in September 1995. David Kaczynski browsed through old family papers and found letters dating back to the 1970s written by Ted and sent to newspapers protesting the abuses of technology and which contained phrasing similar to what was found in the Unabomber Manifesto.

Prior to the publishing of the manifesto, the FBI held numerous press conferences enlisting the help of the public in identifying the Unabomber. They were convinced that the bomber was from the Chicago area (where he began his bombings), had worked or had some connection in Salt Lake City, and by the 1990s was associated with the San Francisco Bay Area. This geographical information, as well as the wording in excerpts from the manifesto that were released prior to the entire manifesto being published, was what had persuaded David Kaczynski's wife, Linda, to urge her husband to read the manifesto.

After the manifesto was published, the FBI received over a thousand calls a day for months in response to the offer of a $1 million reward for information leading to the identity of the Unabomber. There were also large numbers of letters mailed to the UNABOM Task Force that purported to be from the Unabomber, and thousands of suspect leads were sifted through. While the FBI was occupied with new leads, David Kaczynski first hired private investigator Susan Swanson in Chicago to investigate Ted's activities discreetly. The Kaczynski brothers had become estranged in 1990, and David had not seen Ted for ten years. David later hired Washington, D.C. attorney Tony Bisceglie to organize evidence acquired by Swanson and make contact with the FBI, given the likely difficulty in attracting the FBI's attention. He wanted to protect his brother from the danger of an FBI raid, like Ruby Ridge or the Waco Siege, since he knew Ted would not take kindly to being contacted by the FBI and would likely react irrationally or violently.

In early 1996, former FBI hostage negotiator and criminal profiler Clinton R. Van Zandt was contacted by an investigator working with Tony Bisceglie. Bisceglie asked Van Zandt to compare the manifesto to typewritten copies of handwritten letters David had received from his brother. Van Zandt's initial analysis determined that there was better than a 60 percent chance that the same person had written the letters as well as the manifesto, which had been in public circulation for half a year. Van Zandt's second analytical team determined an even higher likelihood that the letters and the manifesto were the product of the same author. He recommended that Bisceglie's client immediately contact the FBI.

In February 1996, Bisceglie provided a copy of the 1971 essay written by Ted Kaczynski to the FBI. At the UNABOM Task Force headquarters in San Francisco, Supervisory Special Agent Joel Moss immediately recognized similarities in the writings. Linguistic analysis determined that the author of the essay papers and the manifesto were almost certainly the same. When combined with facts gleaned from the bombings and Kaczynski’s life, that analysis provided the basis for a search warrant.

David Kaczynski had attempted to remain anonymous at the outset but he was swiftly identified, and within a few days, an FBI agent team was dispatched to interview David and his wife with their attorney in Washington, D.C. At this and subsequent meetings with the team, David provided letters written by his brother in their original envelopes, so the use of postmark dates enabled the enhancement of the timeline of Ted Kaczynski's activities being developed by the Task Force. David developed a respectful relationship with the primary Task Force behavioral analyst, Special Agent Kathleen M. Puckett, with whom he met many times in Washington, D.C., Texas, Chicago, and Schenectady, New York, over the nearly two months before the federal search warrant was served on Theodore Kaczynski's cabin.


Agents arrested Theodore Kaczynski on April 3, 1996 at his remote cabin outside Lincoln, Montana, where he was found in an unkempt state. Combing his cabin, the investigators found a wealth of bomb components, 40,000 handwritten journal pages that included bomb-making experiments and descriptions of the Unabomber crimes; and one live bomb, ready for mailing. They also found what appeared to be the original typed manuscript of the manifesto. By this point, the Unabomber had been the target of one of the most expensive investigations in the FBI's history.

Paragraphs 204 and 205 of the FBI search and arrest warrant for Kaczynski stated that "experts"—many of them academics consulted by the FBI—believed the manifesto had been written by "another individual, not Theodore Kaczynski". As stated in the affidavit, only a handful of people believed Theodore Kaczynski was the Unabomber before the search warrant revealed the cornucopia of evidence in Kaczynski's isolated cabin. The search warrant affidavit written by FBI Inspector Terry D. Turchie reflects this conflict, and is striking evidence of the opposition to Turchie and his small cadre of FBI agents that included Moss and Puckett—who were convinced Theodore Kaczynski was the Unabomber—from the rest of the UNABOM Task Force and the FBI in general:

204. Your affiant is aware that other individuals have conducted analyses of the UNABOM Manuscript __ determined that the Manuscript was written by another individual, not Kaczynski, who had also been a suspect in the investigation.

205. Numerous other opinions from experts have been provided as to the identity of the unabomb subject. None of those opinions named Theodore Kaczynski as a possible author.

David Kaczynski had once admired and emulated his elder brother, but had later decided to leave the survivalist lifestyle behind. He had received assurances from the FBI that he would remain anonymous and that his brother would not learn who had turned him in, but his identity was leaked to CBS News in early April 1996. CBS anchorman Dan Rather called FBI director Louis Freeh, who requested 24 hours before CBS broke the story on the evening news. The FBI scrambled to finish the search warrant and have it issued by a federal judge in Montana; afterwards, an internal leak investigation was conducted by the FBI, but the source of the leak was never identified. David donated the reward money, less his expenses, to families of his brother's victims.

After his arrest, Kaczynski was briefly among the several individuals who have been considered suspects of being the unidentified Zodiac Killer. However, he lived in Illinois during most of the killings, and was eliminated as a suspect.

Among the links that raise suspicion were the fact that Kaczynski lived in the Bay Area from 1967 to 1969, the same period that most of the Zodiac's confirmed killings occurred in California, and both being highly intelligent with an interest in bombs and codes. Robert Graysmith of San Francisco, author of the book Zodiac in 1986, said the similarities are "fascinating" but undoubtedly purely coincidental.

In 1996, a docudrama was produced titled "Unabomber: The True Story", featuring actors Dean Stockwell as Ben Jeffries, Robert Hays as David Kaczynski and Tobin Bell as Theodore Kaczynski. In this film a determined postal inspector was followed as he tracked down the suspect and also centered on Kaczynski's brother, who played a key role in the investigation.

Court proceedings

Kaczynski's lawyers, headed by Montana federal defender Michael Donahoe, attempted to enter an insanity defense to save Kaczynski's life, but Kaczynski rejected this plea. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed Kaczynski as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but declared him competent to stand trial. Kaczynski's family said he would psychologically "shut down" when pressured. In the book, Technological Slavery, Kaczynski recalls two prison psychologists, Dr. James Watterson and Dr. Michael Morrison, who visited him almost every day for a period of four years, who told him that they saw no indication that he suffered from any such serious mental illness, and that the diagnosis of his being paranoid schizophrenic was "ridiculous" and a "political diagnosis". Dr. Morrison made remarks to him about psychologists and psychiatrists providing any desired diagnosis if they are well paid for doing so.

A federal grand jury indicted Kaczynski in April 1996, on 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing, and using bombs. He was also charged with killing Scrutton, Mosser, and Murray. On January 7, 1998, Kaczynski attempted to hang himself. Initially, the government prosecution team indicated that it would seek the death penalty for Kaczynski after it was authorized by United States Attorney General Janet Reno. David Kaczynski's attorney asked the former FBI agent who made the match between the Unabomber's manifesto and Kaczynski to ask for leniency—he was horrified to think that turning his brother in might result in his brother's death. Eventually, Kaczynski was able to avoid the death penalty by pleading guilty to all the government's charges, on January 22, 1998. Later, Kaczynski attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing it was involuntary. Judge Garland Ellis Burrell Jr. denied his request. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld that decision.

The early hunt for the Unabomber in the United States portrayed a perpetrator far different from the eventual suspect. The Unabomber Manifesto consistently uses "we" and "our" throughout, and at one point in 1993 investigators sought an individual whose first name was "Nathan", due to a fragment of a note found in one of the bombs. However, when the case was finally presented to the public, authorities denied that there was ever anyone other than Kaczynski involved in the crimes. Explanations were later presented as to why Kaczynski targeted some of the victims he selected.

On August 10, 2006, Judge Garland Burrell Jr. ordered that personal items seized in 1996 from Kaczynski's Montana cabin should be sold at a "reasonably advertised Internet auction." Items the government considers to be bomb-making materials, such as writings that contain diagrams and "recipes" for bombs, are excluded from the sale. The auctioneer will pay the cost and will keep up to 10% of the sale price, and the rest of the proceeds must be applied to the $15 million in restitution that Burrell ordered Kaczynski to pay his victims.

Included among Kaczynski's holdings to be auctioned are his original writings, journals, correspondences, and other documents allegedly found in his cabin. The judge ordered that all references in those documents that allude to any of his victims must be removed before they are sold. Kaczynski has challenged those ordered redactions in court on first amendment grounds, arguing that any alteration of his writings is an unconstitutional violation of his freedom of speech.

Life in prison

Kaczynski is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole as Federal Bureau of Prisons register number 04475–046 in ADX Florence, the federal Administrative Maximum Facility supermax near Florence, Colorado. When asked if he was afraid of losing his mind in prison, Kaczynski replied:

No, what worries me is that I might in a sense adapt to this environment and come to be comfortable here and not resent it anymore. And I am afraid that as the years go by that I may forget, I may begin to lose my memories of the mountains and the woods and that's what really worries me, that I might lose those memories, and lose that sense of contact with wild nature in general. But I am not afraid they are going to break my spirit.
—Ted Kaczynski,

Kaczynski has been an active writer in prison. The Labadie Collection, part of the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library, houses Kaczynski's correspondence from over 400 people since his arrest in April 1996, including carbon copy replies, legal documents, publications, and clippings. The names of most correspondents will be kept sealed until 2049. Kaczynski has also been battling in federal court in northern California over the auction of his journals and other correspondence.

On January 10, 2009, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California rejected Kaczynski's arguments that the government's sale of his writings violates his freedom of expression. His writings, books, and other possessions will be sold online, and the money raised will be sent to several of his

Kaczynski's cabin was removed and stored in a warehouse in an undisclosed location. It was to be destroyed, but was eventually given to Scharlette Holdman, an investigator on Kaczynski's defense team. It is on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. as of July 2008. In a three-page handwritten letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Kaczynski objected to the public exhibition of the cabin, claiming it violated the victim's objection to be publicly connected with the UNABOM case.

In a letter dated October 7, 2005, Kaczynski offered to donate two rare books to the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, Illinois, the location of the first two attacks. The recipient, David Easterbrook, turned the letter over to the university's archives. Northwestern rejected the offer, noting that the library already owned the volumes in English and did not desire duplicates.

David Kaczynski, Theodore's brother and the person who turned him in to the FBI, has never received a response to the monthly letters he sends to Theodore in prison, as of 2007.

Kaczynski has continued to write while in prison. In 2010, a collection of his essays and a corrected version of the Manifesto were published by Feral House, under the title Technological Slavery.

Popular culture

Before the events of September 11, Ted Kaczynski stood as an unprecedented figure of terrorism in the United States. He has been portrayed with tones that vary from serious to satirical.


  • In the film Good Will Hunting, Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) has met Professor Gerard Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) in a bar, wherin they begin an argument about the academic future of Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Lambeau illustrates the insufficiency of his own mathematical prowess compared to Hunting's by first asking Jimmy the bartender if he's heard of Jonas Salk, then Albert Einstein, the implication being that Hunting's genius may in fact match theirs. When Jimmy answers yes to both inquiries, Lambeau asks, "Have you heard of Gerard Lambeau?", to which Jimmy answers no. The argument then becomes heated when Lambeau insists on pushing Hunting towards a career in mathematics despite the ambivalence Hunting has expressed to Maguire. Maguire then asks Lambeau if he's heard of Ted Kaczynski. When the professor answers no, Maguire yells across the room to Jimmy, "Jimmy, who's Ted Kaczynski?" Without missing a beat Jimmy answers, "The unabomber!"

  • In the 2007 film Shoot 'Em Up, the protagonist Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) states that the reason he can never go to the police for assistance is that he is the Unabomber. When his sidekick Donna (Monica Bellucci) argues that "they caught the Unabomber," Mr. Smith replies with "That's what they think."

  • Das Netz, a German film that explores the actions of the Unabomber in relation to art, technology, and LSD. The Film states that Kaczynski was used in the CIA Project MKULTRA and given large doses of LSD.

  • In the film Let's go to Prison, John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) refers to the Unabomber when he is speaking about when Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett) will be paroled.


  • In Season 21, Episode 17 of Saturday Night Live, a skit is performed in which Ted Kaczynski (Will Ferrell) is allowed to attend his class reunion escorted by two FBI agents. His classmate seem unaware of the fact that he is the Unibomber.

  • In Season 1, Episode 1 of The Upright Citizen's Brigade, Ted Kaczynski (Matt Besser) develops a meaningful friendship with a Girl Scout and learns many valuable life lessons.

  • Joe from NewsRadio on several occations makes mention of the unabomber and on a few occasions claims to be the unabomber.

  • In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Don Kragen (Dann Florek) comments how a sketch description of an alleged rapist looks like "The Unabomber". Later in the episode a woman in a nail salon makes a similar comment ("Isn't that the Unabomber?").


  • In 2005, Camper Van Beethoven released New Roman Times, a concept album about a man from Texas who becomes a terrorist. Track 7, titled "Militia Song" is inspired by Ted Kaczynski in the refrain, "Studied mathematics in Berkeley/Now I don't like society./Got me a little shack in the woods,/gonna mail you out some explosive goods".


Works written by the Unabomber

  • Industrial Society and its Future: The Unabomber Manifesto (ISBN 1-59986-990-X)

Works written by Kaczynski

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1967). Boundary Functions [doctoral dissertation]. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1964). "Another proof of Wedderburn's theorem". American Mathematical Monthly 71: 652 – 653.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1964). "Advanced problem 5210". American Mathematical Monthly 71: 689.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1965). "Boundary functions for functions defined in a disk". Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics 14 (4): 589 – 612. doi:10.1512/iumj.1965.14.14039. MR0176080.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1965). "Distributivity and (-1)x = -x (solution to advanced problem 5210)". American Mathematical Monthly 72: 677 – 678.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1966). "On a boundary property of continuous functions". Michigan Mathematical Journal 13: 313 – 320. MR0210900.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1968). "Note on a problem of Alan Sutcliffe". Mathematics Magazine 41: 84 – 86. MR0228409.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1969). "The set of curvilinear convergence of a continuous function defined in the interior of a cube". Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society 23: 323 – 327.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1969). "Boundary functions for bounded harmonic functions". Transactions of the American Mathematical Society 137: 203 – 209. MR0236393.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1969). "Boundary functions and sets of curvilinear convergence for continuous functions". Transactions of the American Mathematical Society 141: 107 – 125. MR0243078.

  • Kaczynski, T. J. (1971). "Problem 787". Mathematics Magazine 44 (1): 41. A match stick problem (solution to problem 787), Mathematics Magazine 44 (5): 286 – 299. This article was subsequently plagiarized by Dănuţ Marcu in Geombinatorics.

Works about Kaczynski and the Unabomber

  • Terry D. Turchie and Kathleen M. Puckett, Ph.D., "Hunting the American Terrorist: The FBI's War on Homegrown Terror," 2007, ISBN 978-1933909349

  • Ron Arnold, Ecoterror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature: The World of the Unabomber, 1997, ISBN 0-939571-18-8

  • Alston Chase, Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist, extended from the Atlantic article, about the Murray psychological experiment, ISBN 0-393-02002-9

  • Alston Chase, A Mind for Murder: The Education of the Unabomber and the Origins of Modern Terrorism, 2004, ISBN 0-393-32556-3

  • Douglas and Olshaker, Unabomber: On the Trail of America's Most-Wanted Serial Killer, 1996, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-00411-5

  • Don Foster, Author Unknown: Tales of a Literary Detective, pg. 95-142, 2000, Henry Holt & Co., ISBN 978-0805063578

  • James A. Fox, et al., Technophobe - The Unabomber Years: The Ultimate Sourcebook of Facts,...., 1997, Dove Books, ISBN 0-7871-1159-7

  • David Gelernter, Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, 1997, ISBN 0-684-83912-1

  • Robert Graysmith, Unabomber: Desire to Kill, 1997, ISBN 0-89526-397-1

  • Steven D. Levitt, Steven J. Dubner, Freakonomics, 2005, pp. 141-142, 191, ISBN 978-0-141-03008-1

  • Michael Mello, The United States of America versus Theodore John Kaczynski: Ethics, Power and the Invention of the Unabomber, 1999, ISBN 1-893956-01-6

  • Jay Nash, Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative Encyclopedia from the Anarchists, Through the Weathermen, to the Unabomber, 1998, ISBN 0-87131-855-5

  • Jill Smolowe, et al., Mad Genius: Odyssey, Pursuit & Capture of the Unabomber Suspect, 1996, ISBN 0-446-60459-3

  • Chris Waits, Dave Shors, Unabomber: The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski, 1999, ISBN 1-56037-131-5

  • American white power band Mudoven recorded a tribute song "Unabomber" in their Aryan vs. Alien 7" EP (Tri-State Terror, 1997).



Why Did the Unabomber Kill?

November 15, 2005

Twenty-six years ago today, a package bomb exploded in the cargo hold of American Airlines flight 444 from Chicago to Washington. The plane made an emergency landing, and no one was killed, but the event was deeply alarming nonetheless. Iranians had descended upon the American embassy in Tehran just 11 days earlier and taken 66 Americans hostage, so tensions regarding terrorism were already running high. Charles Monroe, an FBI agent put on the case, appeared optimistic that the culprit would be found. “We have some good evidence,” he said. “The package was not completely obliterated.” But reconstructing the fragments of the bomb would prove much easier than piecing together the bomber’s identity.

By the time his tenth bomb detonated, in the hands of a University of Michigan graduate student six years to the day after flight 444, the FBI had given him a code name, Unabomber, for his propensity to target universities and airlines. It would be eleven 11 more years after that before he was finally captured. And even then reassembling his state of mind, his motives, and his life would be a monumental task.

The American Airlines bomb came to be identified as the Unabomber’s third, the prior two having targeted professors at Northwestern University. It was the first to attract the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attention. It had been mailed from the Chicago area in a brown paper box and rigged with a barometer that would trigger an explosion once the plane reached 35,000 feet. Half an hour after takeoff, the flight’s 80 passengers heard a loud noise. Smoke billowed into the cabin, and the crew tried to vent it as oxygen masks dropped. After an emergency landing at Dulles Airport, 12 passengers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

The FBI joined the case, as did Postal Service inspectors, because the bomb had crossed state lines and was sent via the U.S. mail. In the plane’s baggage compartment they found remnants of a homemade pipe bomb constructed from a juice can and housed in a wooden box. The bomb had been inexpertly made, preventing most of the powder from igniting; had it all gone off, the Boeing 727 would have been obliterated. Investigators were puzzled by a residue of barium nitrate, which serves no purpose in explosives other than to color fireworks green. Soon they would come to recognize its part in an elaborate inside joke.

With the six bombs he would send over the next six years—two to airline personnel, four to universities—the Unabomber’s skill improved dramatically. He mixed his own powders and made most of the components by hand from metal and scrap wood, even when store-bought switches and screws might have worked better, obsessively filing and sanding to remove any traces that might betray his identity. He always housed the assembly in a homemade wooden box. In fact, wood emerged as his intentional trademark. In what investigators construed as a display of sick humor, the Unabomber in 1980 addressed a package in green ink to the president of United Airlines, whose name was Percy Wood. The bomb was hidden in a book published by Arbor House.

The bomb sent to James V. McConnell, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, on November 15, 1985, would be the Unabomber’s last before he became a killer. A letter attached to the outside of the package asked McConnell to review an enclosed manuscript. When a student of McConnell’s, Nick Suino, opened the package, a burst of light, noise, and shrapnel tore through the office. Suino suffered burns and cuts but recovered; McConnell, who was standing nearby, sustained permanent hearing damage. Considering the Unabomber’s next victim, they count themselves lucky. Less than a month later, a Sacramento computer-store owner noticed a block of wood in the parking lot outside his shop. The second he touched it it exploded with enough force tothat blew blow off his hand and punctured his heart. He died instantly.

The Unabomber would kill two more and seriously injure an additional three before authorities stopped him. Despite the uniqueness of his devices, an FBI agent admitted in 1994 that “I don’t think we’re much closer than we were 16 years ago.” The perpetrator’s M.O. was inconsistent—some packages were mailed, some left in public—and his victims were related only tangentially by their technology-related occupations.

In the longest, most expensive serial-killer case ever, the Unabom task force, which included the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in addition to the FBI and the Postal Service, received 20,000 calls to its hotline, conducted thousands of interviews, and trailed 200 suspects. They developed a profile of an intelligent, well-educated man who hated technology, kept to himself, drove an old car or rode a bicycle, kept meticulous notes, and had difficulties with women. The profile proved eerily correct, but it didn’t help catch him.

James Fox, an agent on the case, opined in 1995 that “he’s feeling invincible, that he’s superior to law enforcement and can forever outsmart the police. Hopefully that’s what will be his downfall.” But as it turned out his downfall was neither egotism nor sloppiness. It was his distinctive writing style.

When The New York Times and the Washington Post published a 35,000-word manifesto by the Unabomber, in 1995, David Kaczynski, a 45-year-old social worker, recognized some of the idioms and ideas as those of his 53-year-old brother, Ted. David Kaczynski approached the FBI on condition of anonymity (although his name was quickly leaked), and soon the woods around Ted’s remote Montana cabin were crawling with agents dressed as lumberjacks and mailmen. They arrested him on April 3, 1996, and found 10 binders full of diagrams and test results in his shack, as well as bomb-making materials, explosives, and one completed bomb.

After his arrest and during his 1997 trial, at which he pleaded guilty rather than allow his lawyers to submit an insanity defense, Theodore Kaczynski’s life emerged as front-page material for every news outlet in the country. But even with the bomber named, the pieces didn’t quite fit together.

The nation learned that Kaczynski had been a precocious but maladjusted loner as a child. He graduated from a Chicago high school, went to Harvard, earned a Ph.D. in math from the University of Michigan in 1967, and accepted a tenure-track position at Berkeley, the epicenter of sixties radicalism. Although he seemed oblivious of most of the era’s politics (and, for that matter, of other people as a whole), and despite his short hair and tie, he absorbed one piece of sixties philosophy. He didn’t tune in or turn on, but in 1969 he dropped out.

He drifted until 1971, when he bought 1.4 acres of Montana wilderness and built a 10-by-12-foot shack out of plywood. Over the next 15 years he would make occasional perfunctory efforts at rejoining civilization. He worked for his brother at a foam-rubber factory in Chicago until David was forced to fire him for harassing a female coworker who spurned his advances. The bombings started soon after.

Some psychologists have blamed his behavior on acute sexual frustration, others on resentment toward a society that didn’t accept him. Magazine writers noted that as a baby he was hospitalized for an allergic reaction, and his parents were forbidden from having contact with him; perhaps this could have caused a lifetime of aloofness, they speculated.

A court-appointed psychiatrist pronounced him schizophrenic, although he proclaims his sanity to this day and appears rational enough in interviews. But why does somebody cross that line between pathology and evil? What makes one man painfully awkward and another a serial killer? Kaczynski himself offers few clues. In his life, even the things that never exploded may be impossible to put back together again.

—Christine Gibson is a former editor at American Heritage magazine.



Unabomb has been at it since 1978 mailing letter bombs to scientists, computer industry people and politicians. Although Unabom has only killed three, many have been severely injured by his lethal postal work. His last victim, a California Forestry Association executive, was killed in 1995, four days after the Oklahoma bombing.

A intellectual psychopath, Unabomb likes to plant references to wood and forestry in his bombing text. In 1995, in a desperate cry for attention, the moody bomber threatened to blow up an airliner in Los Angeles International Airport during the fourth of July weekend. Nothing came to pass, except that the Unabomber became the hottest publishing commodity in the nation after he requested that his treatise against technology be published by the media. Finally, on September 1995, the Washington Post and the New York Times published his manifesto. On November 6, 1995, the FBI declared that Unabom no longer was considered a terrorist and that his profile was more like that of a serial killer.

On April 3, 1996, Federal Agents arrested Theodore J. Kaczynski, a Harvard grad and former UC Berkeley math professor, in a remote cabin in the Montana mountains. Authorities believe Ted is indeed the mysterious Unabomber. After a 18-year search, Kaczynski's brother David broke the case when he uncovered old letters in his mother's attic that sounded like Unabom. Through a lawyer David handed the documents to authorities after negotiating that they would not pursue the death penalty. After a three week stakeout around Kaczynski's remote mountain cabin in the freezing wilderness near the Continental Divide, federal agents arrested the reclusive genius.

The cabin, a Spartan hand-built 10-by-12-foot wood and tar paper structure, had no electricity, phone or running water. The reclusive ex-professor's only means of transportation was a red bike he rode into town to buy supplies when the harsh Montana weather allowed. For more than twenty-five years he led a hermit's life in the mountains that would have made Saint Anthony proud. It is unclear how someone living under such austere isolation could have perpetrated the series of intricate bombings authorities claimed he did.

To prove their case against the reclusive mountain-man/genius the Feds have "leaked" information to the press about two partially assembled bombs discovered in his home. They also stated that one of his three typewriters "might" matched the one used to write the serial bomber's 35,000-word rant against industrialization. They also claimed to have found the original manuscript. All in all 700 pieces of evidence were carted away from his cabin before the Feds decided to take the cabin itself to a nearby Airforce base for safekeeping.

On the positive side, after years of isolation Teddy does not seem troubled by his new living conditions. Being back in civilization, Ted has been showering on a daily basis and is enjoying the fine prison cuisine. Apart from that, his hermit life seems to remain the same. He still reads avidly and his cell is bigger than the cabin in which he lived for more than 25 years. He has been soft spoken and pleasant with everyone he has come in contact with. However he has not said a word regarding the accusations leveled against him. Perhaps he is saving it for the legions of Hollywood agents anxiously waiting by his cell door with lucrative deals for the exclusive book and film rights to his side of the story.

On May 16, 1997, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Teddy K. The K. family, who was instrumental in his arrest, was "devastated" by the news and regretted having helped the government with their investigation. On the other hand, family members of several of the victims praised the decision. Here at the Archives we believe the government's reversal will eventually backfire in this and other cases where they might need the cooperation of family members to enforce the law. "The family now are the ultimate hostile witnesses," said Laurie Levenson, associate dean of the Loyola University School of Law.


Murder Watch February 1995


Serial killers are more likely to use certain weapons than others. Guns, knives and bare hands are fairly common. Bombs are extremely rare. Technically, the serial bomber known as Unabom, has killed too few people to be a serial killer, but he has maimed a number of people, killed two and come very close to killing others. Only luck has kept his toll from being higher. Time and a few more bombs may well tip the balance the wrong way.

The first bomb was discovered in a parking lot of the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois on May 25, 1978. Wrapped in brown paper, it looked like a lost piece of mail. It was addressed to E.J. Smith, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. The return address carried the name of Northwestern University Technology Institute professor: Buckley Crisp. Buckley Crisp didn't send it, though, and gave it to police when it was given to him. When a cop tried to open the package, it exploded, injuring him. The bomb was a primitive device; matchheads were used to make the explosive.

Two weeks less than a year later, on May 9, 1979, an engineering student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, noticed a strange looking device leaning against a wall. When he picked it up, it exploded. As with the first device, the student lived.

On November 15 of the same year, something caught fire in a mail bag in the hold of American Airlines Flight 444, on a run from Chicago to Washington, D.C. The plane was forced to land. Twelve passengers were treated for smoke inhalation.

Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms examined the flaming package and concluded that it was made by the same person who made the first two. They called him the Junkyard Bomber because the bombs were made with scraps of debris. Note also that they were not particularly effective.

The next device was mailed to the Chicago home of Percy Wood, who at the time was the president of United Airlines. On June 10, 1980, he opened the package and found what looked like a current novel inside, with a typed note saying, "I am sending you this book. I think you will find it of great social significance."

When he opened the book, it exploded. The pages inside had been hollowed out, the space used to hide a bomb. Wood's left hand was injured. A piece of the bomb was found bearing the letters "FC."

On October 8, 1981, an unusual package was noticed in a classroom in the business administration building on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. There had been a series of bombings in the area recently, and the maintenance man who spotted the package decided to play it safe and call the police. He was right. After disarming the bomb, police found that it had the letters "FC" on it.

Note that this was the first bomb outside the Chicago area but, like most of the previous bombs (and the next one) it was on a university campus.

The next one was mailed from Provo, Utah, to Patrick Fischer, a professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Interestingly, the package was originally sent to Penn State, where Fischer taught before coming to Vanderbilt. It was forwarded to him. When his secretary opened it, on May 5, 1982, it exploded. The secretary survived.

Up to this point the bombs were coming roughly once a year. There were two in 1979, six months apart. The next bomb came only two months after the Vanderbilt University bomb, however. On July 2, 1982, Dr. Diogenes Angelakos saw a strange device leaning against the wall in the break room in Cory Hall, a building on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. The device had gauges and dials on it, making it look like somebody's class project. When Dr. Angelakos picked it up, it exploded, doing serious damage to his hand and arm. A note was recovered from the remains that said, "Wu - It works! I told you it would. R.V." This note was probably part of the bomb's camouflage, though it could have greater significance than that. The similarity to the Northwestern University device in 1979 was worthy of notice, though.

The bombs stopped appearing for several years after that. Obviously, since the bomber hasn't been caught, the reason for the lay off isn't known. It's possible that he was in prison or a mental institution, or even that he was unusually busy with a new job or with his family. He may even have been intentionally delaying his attacks until he could improve his skills at making bombs. Whatever the reasons, when he started again, there were two bombs, almost at the same time.

The first was again in Cory Hall at Berkeley. On May 15, 1985, John Hauser, an Air Force Captain doing graduate work at the University, found a plastic box held to a three ring binder by a rubber band, resting unattended on a table. When he opened the box, it exploded, severely damaging his arm.

A few weeks later, a worker at a Boeing manufacturing plant in Auburn, Washington, started to open a wooden box that had been sitting on a shelf for about a month and decided he didn't like its looks. The bomb squad found a bomb with the letters "FC" on it. The batteries that would have sparked the explosion were dead. The box was mailed to the plant from Oakland, California, on May 8, before Captain Hauser found the one that injured him.

Still more bombs came that year. Either the bomber was making up for lost time, or he had a backlog of unused devices to get rid of.

On November 15, 1985, an assistant to a psychology professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor opened a thick manila envelope that came in the mail. A note asked the professor to review the enclosed "thesis." The explosion injured both the assistant and the professor. The return address on the package was Salt Lake City.

The first fatality in the series came on December 11, 1985, when 38-year-old Hugh Scrutton walked out of his computer store in Sacramento, California and stooped to pick up a bag on the sidewalk. The bag exploded, sending shrapnel through Scrutton's chest. He lived only seconds. The letters "FC" were found on the remains of the bomb.

Everyone who has analyzed this case has been baffled by the choice of victims. There seemed to be a pattern to the university bombings, and a separate pattern of airline related bombings, but the murder of Hugh Scrutton fit neither. Yet it was unquestionably related to the others. Like most of the others, too, the bomb was not very selective. Anyone who happened to see it could have triggered it.

Again there was a lay off, shorter this time. On February 20, 1987, a man was seen to walk up to the back of Caam's, Inc. - another computer store, this one in Salt Lake City - and place an object in the parking space used by the company's owner. A few minutes later, the owner arrived. When he tried to kick the object out of the way so he could park his car, it exploded, injuring his leg.

The object itself looked like a fairly innocuous piece of garbage - a couple of pieces of wood stuck together, with bent nails sticking out.

The woman who saw the man place the bomb was able to give a good enough description for a sketch to be made of him. She said he was a white male, 25 to 30 years old, nearly 6 feet tall with blond or sun-bleached hair and a ruddy complexion. He had a thin mustache and wore a hooded jacket and tinted glasses. He appeared calm, even after she made eye contact with him. If the estimate of his age is accurate, he would have been around college age when the bombings began. This suggests that he began with a target or targets he held a personal grudge against, though the wide differences in future targets argues that this did not stay the case.

It's hard to believe that it's a coincidence that, after he was seen placing a device, the bomber laid low for the next six years. However, any of the possible explanations for the previous lay off may still apply to this one. No more bombs were connected to him until one exploded at the Tiburon, California home of Dr. Charles Epstein, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco, on June 22, 1993. The bomb came in a padded envelope mailed to him from Sacramento. According to the return address, it was sent by James Hill, the chairman of the chemistry department at California State University at Sacramento. Hill was cleared of any involvement, however. In the explosion Dr. Epstein received a broken arm and lost several fingers.

It's interesting that the bomber went to the trouble of using a real return address. Possibly he chose the name of someone Dr. Epstein would recognize, though that information hasn't been mentioned in any reports.

Two days later another bomb, mailed to 38-year-old Dr. David Gelernter, a computer science professor at Yale University, blew up when he opened it in his office. He received severe wounds to his abdomen, chest, face and hands. Clearly, it was only by luck that Dr. Gelernter survived the explosion. The package was postmarked Sacramento.

According to the New York Times, the switchboard at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in nearby West Haven, Connecticut, received a call from someone who said, "You are next." Gelernter's brother Joel works at the center, a fact which could have very important implications that we'll get to later.

On the same day, the New York Times received a letter purporting to come from the bomber.

It read, in part:

We are an anarchist group calling ourselves FC. Notice that the postmark on this envelope precedes a newsworthy event that will happen about the time you receive this letter, if nothing goes wrong. This will prove that we knew about the event in advance, so our claim of responsibility is truthful. Ask the FBI about FC. They have heard of us. We will give information about our goals at some future time. Right now we only want to establish our identity and provide an identifying number that will ensure the authenticity of any future communications from us. Keep this number secret so that no one else can pretend to speak in our name.



We ended the article last issue with a portion of a letter sent to the New York Times claiming to come from the Unabomer. Since the letter was sent before one of the bomber's bombs exploded, this claim was considered to be likely to be true. After the section we showed, the letter supplied a nine digit number.The number turned out to be the social security number of a man who had recently been paroled from prison in California. The man apparently was not the bomber, however. This raises the interesting possibility that, rather than lying low during his six years off, the bomber may have been in prison, where he somehow accessed this man's records. There is also the possibility that he used a nine digit number (rather than, say, a three digit number) to reduce the chances of an imitater accidentally hitting on the same number, without ever considering that there are a couple hundred million nine-digit numbers in use in this country today.

The reference to a political group was a new wrinkle. Anarchist bombings were popular in the sixties and in the early part of the twentieth century. Plus, there had been 14 bombs without any mention of politics. It seems more likely that, after his years away, the bomber craved attention. By this time the Unabom (the name stands for UNiversity/Airline BOMbings) task force had been failing to catch him for a number of years, even with a sketch of his face. Certainly, he would have found this success gratifying. It's possible that his ego was swelling to a point where he could no longer control it.

The last event of the series, so far, was on December 10, 1994. On that day Thomas Mosser, a 50-year-old executive vice president with Young and Rubicam (a powerful advertising agency) opened a package that was mailed to his home, supposedly from H.C. Wickel of the department of economics at San Francisco State University. No such person exists. Mosser died in the resulting explosion.

Some information has been revealed about the bombs themselves. The bomber uses simple, but effective techniques and easily available materials. There are no mercury switches, timers, or other technological wonders to make the bombs go off. They are always triggered by some action of the victim. They are basically pipe bombs, carefully made and layered with materials to create plenty of deadly shrapnel when the explosions occur. The explosive (after the first one) is based on nitro-glycerin and appears to be quite powerful.

According to the New York Times (June 25, 1993): "The authorities say the bombs have become progressively more complex over the years and they tend to be meticulously constructed of common materials like fishing line, string, nails and wrapping paper. The shards in each explosion have been similar enough to lead investigators to conclude that they came from the same person."

This does not sound much like someone educated in explosives by the military.

The evidence apparently shows that the bomber spends hours putting his bombs together and taking them apart again, compulsively making sure each piece is just so. The letter sent to the New York Times shows similar slow, careful reasoning.

There are two distinct types of delivery: the mail and bombs left at sites. The mailed bombs have shown that he researches his victims. He knows where they live, where they work and possibly even something about their families. He may stalk them. This would give him a more personal contact with them than a bomber normally has - though would still allow a degree of separation he seems to need. Most serial killers prefer close physical contact with their victims. That's one of the reasons they usually choose shorter range, more personal weapons than bombs.

On the other hand, in 1982 he didn't know that Professor Fischer was no longer at Penn State. Either the bomber was working from outdated sources, such as old publications (which would probably indicate a less personal grudge) or he had learned about the intended victim years earlier and waited until he thought it was an appropriate time to send the bomb. In either case, his research was inadequate and he probably would have tried to improve his methods later.

The bomber has to physically visit the places (such as Cory Hall at Berkeley) where camouflaged bombs have been left. This shows, at the very least, that he gets around. He also must know the area - which is most often a university. He can't know exactly who will be victimized by these site specific devices. He is essentially, then, attacking anyone belonging to the class of people generally found there.

He shows a remarkable ingenuity in camouflaging his bombs in a way that will provoke curiosity but not fear. One was called a "thesis." Another looked like some kind of student's experiment. It's possible that he has practiced disguising objects (other than bombs) and observed how people respond to them. At an earlier, less experienced or less careful time in his life, this could have earned him a reputation as a weird practical joker.

The letter to the Times offered an answer to the question of what links the victims: High Technology. Though this does appear to be a common thread, it's not a constant. Possibly the bomber's motivations have changed over the years. What started as a personal grudge, could have evolved to something more generalized as he learned how much he liked blowing people up. A more reliable factor has been that his targets were male. As with a more "traditional" serial killer, the choice of victims may have great significance. In other words, he may be homosexual.

Speculation aside, the feeling seems to be that the Unabom case is not going to be over soon. The bomber is highly intelligent, plans carefully, and leaves next to nothing that can be used to identify him. "FC" could be his initials, or a code for something else entirely. As a signature, it is a direct taunt to authorities, some of whom have worked this case for the better part of two decades. Though investigators know a great deal about his techniques, they don't know exactly who is at risk of attack. They can narrow down his current address no further than, probably, the San Francisco area. They can not trace the materials in his home-made bombs, or isolate an individual with a known grudge against some of the victims. Without more eyewitnesses, he acts in complete anonymity. Using the mail, he sends his bombs all over the country, for reasons only he knows.


Theodore Kaczynski

Theodore Kaczynski, PhD was no poseur. He wasn't one of those fake Luddites, who only claim to hate modern technology but can't go three days without HBO. Ted practiced what he preached. You have to give him that.

The Unabomber's manifesto, submitted to Penthouse magazine and a couple of newspapers, identified a bunch of pet peeves: overcrowding, dissociation from nature, social conformity, rapid pace of technological change, consumerism, corporate domination, etc.

Ted was a true believer. He cranked out that diatribe in a one-room, 10-by-12 plywood shack situated on 1.4 acres of Montana forest. The cabin had no electricity or plumbing. He used a manual typewriter.

It took the FBI 17 years to track the guy down, and they never would have caught him if his brother hadn't recognized Ted's writing and squealed. And that couldn't have happened if Ted hadn't insisted on publishing that manifesto. So really this is Ted's own damn fault.

But he felt compelled to write his essay, which won kudos from the establishment it attacked. One professor at the University of Wisconsin praised the Unabomber's masterful grammar and punctutation. "It's good prose. The sentences flow well into one another, the paragraphs are coherent. The Unabomber even knows how to punctuate, and that's a very rare gift." (That's right, people: he said gift.)

When it appeared initially that neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post were willing to publish the manifesto in full, Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione stepped forward. He took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to send an open letter to the Unabomber. In it, Guccione pledged not only to publish the essay in its entirety, he also offered a regular column. To get over any misgivings the Unabomber might have, Guccione pointed out the tremendous popularity his magazine held in the corridors of power:

"Penthouse is one of the biggest and most quoted magazines in the history of our industry. For 25 years it was and continues to be the single, biggest selling magazine in the Pentagon. If it's attention you want, you'd be hard-pressed to do better."

Ted made contact with Guccione a couple of times, via mail and phone, but they drifted apart after the newspapers finally complied and printed "Industrial Society and Its Future" in unexpurgated form.

His brother David Kaczynski read the thing and got a sinking feeling. David's wife contacted a childhood friend of hers working as a detective at Investigative Group International, the same agency that smeared tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. The detective lined up some writing analysis experts, and then they went to the FBI.

In jail awaiting trial, Ted attempted to hang himself with his underwear to avoid submitting to a psychiatric evaluation. Well, he got one anyway. The court appointed Sally Johnson, M.D. to determine whether Ted was too nuts to stand trial. This is the same doctor who examined John Hinckley and Jim Bakker.

The shrink's report included a biographical sketch of her subject. Ted was your ordinary 16-year-old Harvard freshman. He went through all the typical traumas, such as suffering through severe depression and "acute sexual starvation," ultimately culminating in what the doctor described as "several weeks of intense and persistent sexual excitement involving fantasies of being a female. During that time period he became convinced that he should undergo sex change surgery."

As a matter of fact, Ted scheduled an appointment with a campus shrink to get the ball rolling. But he chickened out in the waiting room and settled on telling the doctor that he was just afraid of getting drafted. When we walked out the door, Ted's outlook suddenly zigzagged, as described in his diary:

"As I walked away from the building afterwards, I felt disgusted about what my uncontrolled sexual cravings had almost led me to do and I felt humiliated, and I violently hated the psychiatrist. Just then there came a major turning point in my life. Like a Phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to a glorious new hope. I thought I wanted to kill that psychiatrist because the future looked utterly empty to me. I felt I wouldn't care if I died. And so I said to myself why not really kill the psychiatrist and anyone else whom I hate. What is important is not the words that ran through my mind but the way I felt about them. What was entirely new was the fact that I really felt I could kill someone. My very hopelessness had liberated me because I no longer cared about death. I no longer cared about consequences and I said to myself that I really could break out of my rut in life an do things that were daring, irresponsible or criminal."

Ted made the decision to keep a diary in the first place primarily because he was worried that people might believe that he was mentally ill:

"I intend to start killing people. If I am successful at this, it is possible that, when I am caught (not alive, I fervently hope!) there will be some speculation in the news media as to my motives for killing (As in the case of Charles Whitman, who killed some 13 people in Texas in the '60s). If such speculation occurs, they are bound to make me out to be a sickie, and to ascribe to me motives of a sordid or "sick" type."

At his sentencing hearing, Ted told the judge: "I ask that people reserve their judgment about me." He received four life sentences, no parole.



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