Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Globe Newspaper Company

The Boston Globe

April 27, 1995, Thursday, City Edition


LENGTH: 764 words

HEADLINE: inting of bomber's note assailed; Criminologist hits N.Y. Times; publisher weighs using 2d, longer piece

BYLINE: Usha Lee McFarling, Globe Staff


The New York Times should not have published a letter it received from the elusive Unabomber, a leading criminologist said yesterday.

"It creates the opportunity for people like him to use violence to get their message across," said James Allen Fox, dean of criminology at Northeastern University. "It was a grave mistake. We don't negotiate for hostages, and he is essentially holding the printed word hostage."

The serial bomber mailed the letter to the Times one day after the Oklahoma bombing. The letter explained what he says are his motives for sending out 16 bombs over the years since 1978, killing three people and injuring 23. His most recent mail bomb killed timber industry lobbyist Gilbert P. Murray Monday in Sacramento. Authorities said today the package was addressed to his predecessor, William N. Dennison, who retired a year ago.

Members of the Unabom task force yesterday released portions of a second letter the Unabomber mailed on the same day as the letter to the Times. In it, the Unabomber rails against "techno-nerds." The letter was postmarked April 20. Authorities said he also sent letters that day to other individuals, all postmarked Oakland, Calif.

Hoping to prompt clues from the public, the FBI in California released transcripts of the letter mailed to David Gelertner of Yale University. Gelertner was injured when a package bomb exploded in his office on June 24, 1993. He needed extensive surgery on his right hand and was wounded on his abdomen, chest and face.

The letter began: "People with advanced degrees aren't as smart as they think they are. If you'd had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn't have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source." The letter, signed by "FC," continued: "In the epilog of your book, 'Mirror Worlds,' you tried to justify your research by claiming that the developments you describe are inevitable, and that any college person can learn enough about computers to compete in a computer-dominated world. Apparently, people without a college degree don't count."

In the letter to the Times, the writer said the bombings would stop if the Times, Newsweek or Time magazine published an article the bomber is writing.

Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said the Times wouldn't be "held hostage" but would look at the manuscript and make a "journalistic decision" about whether to publish it.

For 17 years, the bomber has left barely a trace and only puzzling clues, such as a penchant for making bombs from wood, including bits of wood in packages, or mailing bombs to people with the word "wood" in their names or addresses. He is thought to be an antisocial white male in his early 40s.

Fox said the bomber seems to be angry about the attention the Oklahoma City bombing has received. The Unabomber said his group also could make bombs that could "blow out the walls of substantial buildings."

"There is an element of jealousy," Fox said. "He wants a stage and he was being upstaged by the Oklahoma City bombing." He also "has an intense desire to see the record set straight," Fox said. "He didn't like the fact that he was misinterpreted."

The bomber initially seemed to be targeting university professors and airline officials. But in the letter to the Times, he explained that he "has nothing against universities or scholars as such" but, as an anarchist, advocates breaking society into small, autonomous units and destroying the worldwide industrial system. His targets, the letter said, were people in technical fields like computer science and genetics as the letter to Gelertner seemed to indicate.

In the Times letter, the bomber boasts of his ability to make deadly bombs in small, light packages. Many of the bombs have been meticulously crafted.

Violent acts are often attention-seeking behavior, said Dr. James Gilligan, a specialist on violence and a former medical director of Bridgewater State Hospital.

"A main motive for violence is the wish to gain the respect of other people and overcome the feeling that one is insignificant," Gilligan said. "Some people have learned that if they can't get attention by having people admire them, they can get attention by having people fear them."

Although the letter was full of references to "we," FBI specialists and others said they believe the bomber is acting alone. Jane Meredith Adams reporting from San Francisco also contributed to this report.