The cool and meticulous Unabomber, who has attacked without warning during 17 years of terror, wrote letters this time that indicate he’s unraveling, federal sources said Tuesday.
“He made some demands,” said one highly placed investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But there were words crossed out, it was very shaky. He’s off the deep end.”
Three letters were mailed Thursday, before the latest mail bomb exploded and killed a timber industry lobbyist Monday, the source said. Two were sent to victims of past bombings and the third went to The New York Times.
The newspaper released the letter in early editions of today’s paper. In it, the Unabomber claimed he belonged to a group that advocates breaking down society into small, autonomous units.
He offered to stop the terror campaign if the Times, Newsweek, Time magazine or other national media organizations publish a 37,000-word article he said his group is writing. And he wants the right to rebut any criticism once a year for three years.
His group’s immediate goal, the Unabomber said, is “the destruction of the worldwide industrial system.”
“Through our bombings we hope to promote social instability in industrial society, propagate anti-industrial ideas and give encouragement to those who hate the industrial system.”
The letter also discussed the December killing of advertising executive Thomas Mosser in New Jersey, saying his former public relations firm, Burson-Marstellar, had represented Exxon in the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The Times said, however, that the accusation was not true.
The source who spoke to the AP said the letters do not mention the recent bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, “but I think that’s what set him off.”
Jim Freeman, head of the FBI office in San Francisco, refused to discuss the letters at a news conference Tuesday. He said all three were apparently sent from Oakland.
The bomber’s latest victim was Gilbert B. Murray, president of the California Forestry Association. Murray, 47, was killed when the bomb went off in his Sacramento office.
He was the third person to die in 16 attacks attributed to the Unabomber since 1978. Twenty-three people have been injured.
Only once before had the bomber written a letter - in June 1993 to The New York Times in which he claimed to be part of a group and espoused an anarchistic philosophy. Agents said they doubt he belongs to a group and called that letter a “trial balloon.”
A San Francisco-based task force of FBI, Postal Service and Treasury Department investigators had been expecting the bomber to strike again before summer, another source said. Including Monday’s attack, all of the bombings except one since 1982 have fit a pattern - one bomb followed by a second in a week to a few months, followed by a long silence.Sacramento homicide Lt. Joe Enloe said bomb fragments in the Murray case contained the Unabomber’s “signature.”“This is a very brave, brazen person in the sense that he’s not really hiding the fact that the bomb is his,” Enloe said. The force of the shoebox-sized bomb sent fragments 140 feet into the building’s reception area, he said.
The latest package was addressed to Murray’s predecessor, William Dennison, who left the job a year ago. The Postal Inspection Service is tracking where and when the bomb was mailed, said spokesman Dan DeMiglio.
“It was an extremely cleanly wrapped package, almost flawlessly wrapped. It appeared to have no seams. It was clearly addressed,” DeMiglio said.
The Unabomber, who got the name because he initially targeted university and airline officials, is known for careful craftsmanship and meticulous wrapping.
A composite drawing of the bomber was distributed after he was spotted dropping off a package in Salt Lake City in 1987. He was quiet for six years, but resumed his work with two bombings two days apart in June 1993.
The last attack before Monday was in December, when a bomb killed Mosser in his New Jersey home. Both reinforce the Unabomber’s apparent fascination with wood.
Freeman said the bomb that killed Murray was in a wooden box 10 inches square, weighing 5 to 6 pounds.
Mosser lived on Aspen Drive. Murray was a lobbyist for the timber industry. Earlier victims included Percy Wood, then-head of United Airlines, who lived in Lake Forest.
The Unabomber has used phony return addresses on his mail bombs that have included Ravenswood and Forest Glen Road.
One bomb was encased in a book cover embossed with a tree leaf.
Many of his bombs have included unusual wooden parts and have been encased in wood. One early bomb had twigs attached.
FBI experts on psychological profiles won’t discuss the wood fascination publicly.
They have said the bomber is an anti-social white male, probably in his early 40s.
The bombs usually show signs of having been taken apart and reassembled several times before they are mailed, and the outsides are polished.