Copyright 1995 The Washington Post
The Washington Post
April 26, 1995, Wednesday, Final Edition
SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A03
LENGTH: 866 words
HEADLINE: FBI Blames 'Unabom' for Deadly California Blast
BYLINE: John Schwartz, Washington Post Staff Writer
FBI officials said Tuesday they are "very confident" that the mail bomb that ended the life of timber industry official Gilbert B. Murray in Sacramento was the work of a terrorist known as "Unabom."
"I can't be specific, but there are certainly similarities as far as the signature of the bomb," said special agent Tom Griffin of the Sacramento FBI office. Griffin said agents were going over the crime scene "meticulously" searching for clues about the elusive bomber but that so far there is "nothing terribly new or terribly special going on."
Murray is the third person killed by the bomber, who has struck 16 times since May 1978, when a bomb exploded in the engineering department parking lot at the Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois. The explosions, which have taken place in eight states, have injured 23 people and killed three. The Associated Press reported yesterday that, in an unusual move for the secretive bomber, three letters warning of the Monday attack went out: two to former victims and one to the New York Times.
The Times also received a letter from the bomber in June 1993 that claimed it was from "an anarchist group calling ourselves FC" and warned of an attack. The same month, two bombs exploded within two days.
In its editions today, the Times reports that in the latest letter, the bomber continued to claim that "FC" is a group and not an individual. The letter to the Times said the bomber had spent considerable time perfecting more deadly devices, but it also said that "FC" would stop the attacks if a newspaper or magazine with nationwide circulation published a long article written by the group.
The Times reprinted portions of the letter but said it deleted three paragraphs at the request of the FBI.
The letter said: "Some news reports have made the misleading statement that we have been attacking universities or scholars. We have nothing against universities or scholars as such.. . . The people we are out to get are the scientists and engineers, especially in critical fields like computers and genetics."
The letter said the purported group supports anarchy, hoping ultimately to break society down into small autonomous units, but in the meantime is doing its bombings to help destroy "the worldwide industrial system."
The letter to the Times also taunted the FBI, which "has tried to portray these bombings as the work of an isolated nut. We won't waste our time arguing about whether we are nuts, but we certainly are not isolated." It called the FBI and its investigatory ability a "joke."
The FBI named the terrorist "Unabom" because early incidents were related to universities and the airline industry -- although subsequent attacks have "no apparent explanation or motive," according to the FBI. The bomber's handiwork is distinctive. Unabom, described as a white male who is probably in his early forties, carefully crafts each device, often disguising it to blend in with its surroundings. Hugh C. Scrutton was killed in December 1985 by a bomb concealed in what appeared to be a piece of scrap wood behind his Sacramento-based firm, Rentech Computer Co. The bomber also stamps the letters "FC" onto a component of many bombs. The most recent bomb did not bear the initials FC, said Rick Smith, of the FBI's Unabom task force in San Francisco. But, he added, "the components were the same. The construction was the same. It was the Unabomber."
The FBI created a Unabom task force in San Francisco in 1993 with investigators from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The agency has offered a $ 1 million reward for information leading to the bomber's capture.
The FBI created a composite drawing in 1987 after Unabom was seen leaving a package in Salt Lake City. He was inactive from then until June 1993, when separate bombs severely injured geneticist Charles Epstein of the University of California at San Francisco and computer scientist David Gelernter of Yale University. The letter to the Times said the interlude was used to perfect stronger and smaller bombs. Gelernter was a recipient of one of the recent letters from the bomber, according to the Times. Last December, in the latest bombing before Monday's attack, a device attributed to Unabom killed Thomas Mosser, a New York City advertising executive, who received the package at his New Jersey home.
Some reports on the bomber's activities have focused on his apparent obsession with wood. Many of the bombs are contained in handcrafted, polished wooden cases, and Mosser lived on Aspen Drive; bogus return addresses on some Unabomber devices have included "Forest Glen Road" and "Ravenswood."
The pipe bomb delivered Monday, in a shoe-box-sized package, was was the strongest ever sent by the bomber, the FBI said.
It was addressed to Murray's predecessor as head of the California Forestry Association, William Dennison, FBI officials said. The bomb exploded when Murray, 47, opened the package, killing him and causing extensive damage in the association's offices.
California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) said yesterday that the serial bomber "deserves to die."
GRAPHIC: Photo, reuter, A Sacramento police officer cordons off an area surrounding offices where a package bomb killed the chief lobbyist for a California timber group.