Theodore Kaczynski (a.k.a The Unabomber) was considered as one of the most elusive forces that clandestinely terrorized the American public for nearly two decades. His targets, although not successfully matched at times, were chosen specifically to represent his message. His actions may render him a serial killer in the eyes of some; however, I view Kaczynski’s acts as acts of a terrorist. His solitary personality didn’t hide the fact that he would kill just to kill, he had an ostentatious purpose. He used the bomb to make his message clear, just like many terrorists do (The Sacramento Bee, 1998; White, 2006). He could have killed his targets with any other weapon, but he didn’t.
Theodore Kaczynski had a manifesto combined with repressed feelings towards the world and its “infrastructure.” He used the power of the media in order to pontificate his message. Kaczynski also used the initials “FC” when signing his bombs or communicating with the media to represent a terrorist group called Freedom Club, which was a sham, as we now know that he acted on his own (The Sacramento Bee, 1998). These acts made him a terrorist. A serial killer may have a purpose or one weapon of choice. He targets people that fit his “target profile” (example: blond women, red lipstick, and green eyes), often without drawing much attention to himself, as he wants to continue in his quest to kill. Kaczynski did everything he could to make himself seem like he was a terrorist, as he wanted to instill fear in certain institutions or industries with the spotlight on the Unabomber.
As a part of an investigative team designed to apprehend a person like Theodore Kaczynski I would consider his origins unconnected, and therefore, each investigation would most likely be treated as a separate bomb or arson case. As mentioned before, Kaczynski’s motives for his attacks were not known until years later, and although he was leaving little clues, it wasn’t enough to connect all the pieces in time (The Sacramento Bee, 1998). After a certain time frame, when more information came in, it was evident that there is some kind of a connection. I think that the flow of new information would than change my viewpoint from isolated incidents to an elaborate terrorist plot.
With this new information I would initiate a multi-agency task force that would handle this particular individual (or for some time: a terrorist organization) and any leads that may result in his arrest. I would try to discern his motives and predict his next move. I would follow up closely with any targeted individuals and institutions in order to gain some useful information that can help me in apprehending such a deviant. Also, I would start looking for patterns and mistakes that can be of some help (origin of mailed bombs, fingerprints, DNA, etc.). Due to the terrorist threat this investigative effort would be televised, as the risk of another attack may increase with time, and the help of the viewers maybe the only way to stop these atrocities. As mentioned previously, the time and the events would most likely change these types of acts from criminal behavior to terrorist activities.
In the end, I think it is very hard to predict what a hidden person with a master plan is thinking. Therefore, the investigation and classification of actions similar to the Unabomber’s can often be mistaken for criminal crimes rather than terrorist activities. Kaczynski was an exceptional individual with an omnivorous mind. His techniques were nearly perfect until February 20th, 1987 when the first ever eyewitness came forward. Even then, his behavior was sporadic and very ambiguous in order to throw off the investigation. He was a genius with a tainted heart and blatant disregard for human life. All of this was orchestrated in order to propagate his message. The Unabomber was caught some time later with the help of David Kaczynski, his brother. I think it is very important to take each lead seriously and check it for validity; this includes any persons coming forward with information, because one person may change what a 50 million dollar man hunt couldn’t (The Sacramento Bee, 1998).
References (APA Style Citation)
No Author (1998). Unabomber – Timeline. Retrieved on April 09, 2007, from the Sacramento Bee Web site: www.unabombertrial.com/timeline
White, J.R. (2006). Terrorism and Homeland Security. Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.