Unveiling an apparent motive and a possible way out of his murderous ways, a serial mail bomber has delivered to The New York Times and The Washington Post a 35,000-word manifesto calling for revolution against what he says is a corrupt industrial-technological society controlled by a shadowy international elite of government and corporate figures seeking to subvert human freedom.
The self-described anarchist, in a series of accompanying letters, said that if the full text of his manuscript is published by one of the newspapers within three months, and if that paper prints three annual follow-up messages, he would stop trying to kill people.
But he did not pledge to stop property destruction in his 17-year campaign of postal terrorism.
The documents were contained in parcels received by The Times on Wednesday and The Post on Thursday and were turned over to the FBI. After examination and laboratory tests, the bureau said they were apparently authentic writings of the terrorist who has killed 3 people and wounded 22 others with 16 mail bombs since 1978.
The killer, known by the FBI code-name Unabomber, in a letter to The Times in April, had said he wanted to tell his story and was working on an article of 29,000 to 37,000 words “that we want to have published” in The Times or Time or Newsweek magazines.
He said he would end his killing if his publication terms were met. The documents received this week were in apparent fulfillment of that letter.
The Times and The Post, in separate statements Thursday, said they were considering whether to publish the manifesto, a 62-page, single-spaced document that often reads like a closely reasoned scholarly tract, touching on politics, history, sociology and science as it posits a cataclysmic struggle between freedom and technology.
If published, the document would fill about seven pages of The Times.
The manifesto sketches a nightmarish vision of a deteriorating society and a future in which the human race is at the mercy of intelligent machines created by computer scientists.
The author urges a revolution in which factories would be destroyed, technical books burned and leaders overthrown. Out of the chaos, he expresses the hope that a return to “wild nature” might prevail.
Thursday’s developments came in a bizarre week in which the bomber, who had never previously issued warnings, first sent a letter to The San Francisco Chronicle threatening to blow up an airliner out of Los Angeles International Airport before the Fourth of July, and then - in a brief message included in the package of documents sent to The Times - called the threat a prank.