FBI following academic trail of Unabomber


In what was described as an important advance in the hunt for an elusive serial bomber, the FBI said yesterday that it had traced a years-long pattern of academic involvement that took the self-described anarchist from the Chicago area to Salt Lake City to Berkeley, Calif.

By matching his 17-year record of carnage against an analysis of a densely argued 35,000-word tract he sent to the New York Times in June, government officials say they have concluded that the bomber is a student of the history of science who may have taken classes at or hovered around major university campuses from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

These include Northwestern University, the Chicago Circle campus of the University of Illinois, the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and the University of California at Berkeley, the officials said.

Federal agents are particularly interested in his activities in the Chicago area, where they believe his intellectual passion first developed in the late 1970s, and how they relate to his current life of mystery and destruction, thought to be centered in Northern California. The FBI now believes that the man they call the Unabomber lives in the Sacramento or San Francisco Bay areas.

The bomber has killed three people and injured 23, many of them seriously, in 16 incidents going back to 1978. His latest victim was Gilbert Murray, a timber-industry lobbyist who was killed when he opened a package bomb sent to the California Forestry Association in Sacramento.

"By sending out the manuscript, he's given us the greatest insight into his own personality and education that we've ever had," said Terry D. Turchie, the senior FBI official overseeing the bureau's investigation.

Mr. Turchie said the bureau, in a break from its normal practice, would make the single-spaced 62-page document available to scholars and professors in the hope that further leads would be discerned from its phrasing or its fierce arguments against a society based on technological advances.

"We would hope the right people out there might see it and . . . might be able to bring this entire thing together," he said, adding that agents were already showing the document to 60 academics who study the history of science and technology, psychology and sociology.

The manifesto shows that the writer is familiar with these academic disciplines. It sneers at scientists, conservatives and particularly liberals, broods about the meaning of freedom and the causes of anomie, and calls for a revolution against a complicated, bureaucratic, technological society that its author maintains robs people of their essence.

"The industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race," the tract opens.

"They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in 'advanced' countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering [in the Third World to physical suffering as well] and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation."

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