Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 911 words

HEADLINE: Unabomber Proposes a Deal Publish his article, and he'll stop

BYLINE: Pamela Burdman, Robert B. Gunnison, Chronicle Sta


Boasting of a string of deadly explosions, the notorious Unabomber mailed letters last week demanding national publication of an ''anarchist'' manifesto in exchange for a halt to his terrorist attacks.

In one of the letters, sent to the New York Times and released last night, the serial bomber linked himself with anti-technology, pro-environment ideas. Though federal agents insist the bombs are the work of a single individual -- probably a man in his 30s or 40s -- the writer claims to represent a radical group called FC.

''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 said.

''The people we are out to get are the scientists and engineers, especially in critical fields like computers and genetics,'' he said elsewhere in the letter.

Besides elaborating on the reasons for the attacks, the single- spaced, typed letter seemed to taunt FBI agents for their failure to locate the bomber believed responsible for 16 attacks in the past 17 years.

''Clearly we are in a position to do a great deal of damage,'' the letter read. ''And it doesn't appear that the FBI is going to catch us any time soon. The FBI is a joke.''

At least two other letters were mailed to previous UNABOM victims -- including one to David J. Gelernter, a Yale computer science professor who was injured by a letter bomb in June 1993, the Times said. The letters, mailed on Thursday, were postmarked in Oakland -- the same origin as the pipe bomb that killed a timber lobbyist in his Sacramento office on Monday, said Jim Freeman, chief of the FBI office in San Francisco.

The letter to the Times did not specifically mention the Sacramento bombing, but it did refer to the Unabomber's last target, New Jersey advertising executive Thomas Mosser, explaining that Mosser's public relations agency, Burson-Marsteller, was the target.

''Burston-Marsteller (sic) helped Exxon clean up its public image after the Exxon Valdez incident,'' says the letter. ''Its business is the development of techniques for manipulating people's attitudes.''

Freeman described the letters as a major development in a case that has stymied investigators for nearly two decades: ''It is the Unabomber himself, describing his own motives. I am optimistic . . . that we will identify the UNABOM suspect.''

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said the paper is willing to review the killer's manuscript and make a ''journalistic decision'' about how to make it public in a responsible manner.

''It's a proposal that law enforcement better take a hard look at and not procrastinate,'' said Louis Bertram, a former FBI agent who started the first UNABOM task force in Salt Lake City. ''If the letter is true, he's on the verge. He could kill himself in a heartbeat, the way I read it.''

The only other known communication from the Unabomber was another letter received by the New York Times in June 1993. That letter contained a nine-digit number the writer said he would use to identify himself in the future. The number, which has never been released, was contained in the letters mailed last week.

In one passage in which he describes the tedious task of mixing dangerous chemicals, designing trigger mechanisms and detonating the devices in isolated stretches of the Sierra, the writer says, ''We are getting tired of making bombs.''

Admitting that he has relied on violence, he writes, ''The people who are pushing all this growth and progress garbage deserve to be severely punished. But our goal is less to punish them than to propagate ideas.''

Killed in the latest explosion was Gilbert Murray, 47, president of the timber trade association.

The package that killed Murray, a wooden box meticulously wrapped in brown paper and nylon filament tape, was 10 by 10 by 6 inches and weighed between five and six pounds, Freeman said.

This week's attack, the eighth with a connection to Northern California, was the first to hit an obvious opponent of environmentalists. But it was not the first to suggest a fascination with wood. Each of the devices has been packaged in wood. Previous victims include Percy Wood, whose bomb came inside a book published by Arbor House, and Mosser, who lived on Aspen Drive.

Postal investigators said the package containing the latest bomb appeared to be larger than earlier ones mailed by the elusive serial bomber, but its operation was similar.

The bomb detonated as Murray opened a package addressed to his predecessor, William Dennison, who left the job a year ago. Although the lobbying group changed its name to California Forestry Association in 1991, the package was addressed to its old name, the Timber Association of California.

''That indicates to me that the person is not closely linked with the industry,'' said Dennison, reached at his Chester (Plumas County) home last night. Dennison said FBI agents interviewed him in Chico for about an hour shortly after Monday's bombing.

Environmentalists reacted with fear last night that the revelations of the bomber's ideology would be used to tar their movement. ''This is stark-raving mad,'' said Betty Ball of the Mendocino Environmental Center. ''The environmental community is strongly nonviolent and believes in life and would never, ever engage in such acts.''

GRAPHIC: PHOTO,Gilbert Murray