The Unabomber carries out his first parcel bomb attack (May 25, 1979)

In May 1979, the ‘Unabomber’ sent his first parcel bomb to a university professor: a security guard was slightly injured when it exploded.

The ‘Unabomber‘ carried out a spate of attacks over almost two decades, making him a rare long-lived terrorist.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, ILLINOIS — If you ever visit Washington DC there is a tourist spot you should not miss. I am not referring to the White House (meh) or the Lincoln Memorial (kinda cool) or even the Jefferson Memorial (boring!). I am referring to the various museums which are, in my humble opinion, among the best in the world. If you can find a better collective than the Smithsonian Institutions then you are way ahead of me.

There is also a place called the Newseum (get it: news + museum) which I just learned closed in 2019. What??? This is a real shame as it was a very cool place to visit (and was just around the corner from the Canadian Embassy so easy to get to when I was in town).

Aside from the usual freedom of the press exhibits one display that grabbed my attention on my first visit was a mock up of a shack. It was one-room, sparsely furnished, not at all a ‘place in the country’ to get away to. It was, frankly, a dive.

This particular hovel was the home of Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the ‘Unabomber’. From 1978 to 1995, Kaczynski sent bombs through the mail to targeted victims, killing three people and injuring 23 others over the years spanning his attacks. He was virulently anti-technology – hence why he moved to a one-room ‘home’. He wanted to go back to a simpler, less sophisticated time.

The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

The quote above was taken from his ‘manifesto’ Industrial Society and Its Future, sent to various media outlets where it got a mixed reaction in 1995. The FBI had failed to locate the Unabomber for 17 years, until the appearance of this document. It was then that Kaczynski’s estranged brother David saw it and said ‘Holy shit! That’s Ted!’ (ok, I may have made the last part up). Kaczynski was found, arrested and put on trial: his defence wanted to plead insanity but Kaczynski wanted no part of that. He admitted he was behind the bombings and was sentenced to eight life terms.

On this day in 1979 the Unabomber carried out his first parcel bomb attack. A professor at Northwestern University in Illinois found a package with his address on it. His first instinct was to call campus security and when officer Terry Marker lifted the lid on the package, a rubber band snapped back and struck six match heads, igniting a fire that triggered the device. The bomb was crudely constructed and left Mr. Marker with only minor cuts and bruises.

Over the years three others were not so lucky. The Unabomber may have hit a chord with many who are not pleased with where the world is headed (i.e. to hell in a handbasket). But is sending bombs to unsuspecting people the solution?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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