The FBI appears to be closing in on the "Unabomber," the mysterious, highly educated terrorist who has killed three people and wounded a score of others in a series of unsolved mail bombings across the United States over the last 17 years.
Two months after the Una-bomber sent a 35,000-word manifesto to newspapers denouncing scientific progress, the FBI announced it had detected a pattern linking the attacks to a series of university campuses. The pattern started in Chicago and moved west to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Berkeley and Sacramento, in northern California, where the bomber is believed to live now.
Yesterday, the New York Times and the Washington Post published extracts from the document. Written in a dense, fanatical style, it argues that industrialisation has been "a disaster for the human race" and that advances in technology will only make matters worse. The destruction of the industrial system must be "the revolutionaries' ONLY goal".
Despite the use of plurals and references to a group called FC, investigators believe the manuscript and the bombings are the work of an individual, probably in his late thirties or early forties. The Unabomber, they now believe, studied or hung around courses on the history of science at universities in one or all three areas. To gain a clearer lead, the Unabomber task force at the FBI has sent copies of the document to specialists in the history of science, who might link its references, language or theories to a particular student.
The task force is waiting to see if the appearance of extracts elicits a direct response from the Unabomber, so named because of his university targets. He indicated in June he would cease his terror campaign if the manifesto was run in full and if annual follow-up treatises were published for three years.
The Unabomber first struck in 1978 in the Chicago area. Most of his targets have been connected with academe or industry. The last was Gilbert Murray, a timber-industry lobbyist, killed by a parcel bomb in Sacramento in April 1995.