Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 Times Newspapers Limited

The Times

December 13, 1994, Tuesday

SECTION: Overseas news

LENGTH: 799 words

HEADLINE: Advertising chief killed in 16-year bombs campaign

BYLINE: From Ben Macintyre in New York


A PARCEL bomb that killed a prominent New York advertising executive on Saturday was the work of a deranged but calculating serial bomber who has murdered two people and injured 23 others over the past 16 years, according to the FBI.

Thomas Mosser, 50, executive vice-president of the advertising and communications agency Young & Rubicam, was decapitated when he opened a small parcel packed with high explosives in the kitchen of his New Jersey home.

Forensic scientists say that the attack bears the marks of the individual dubbed the ''Unabomber'', who has carried out 14 similar bombings since 1978 and whose campaign against universities, airlines and other business corporations appears to be growing ever more violent and unpredictable.

''The components of the bomb, its construction, make us believe the bombs are linked,'' Barry Mawn, head of the FBI in Newark, said yesterday.

The FBI called the bomber in a report in the early 1990s ''one of the most creative and elusive bombers ever encountered''.

American federal officials can only speculate about why Mr Mosser might have become the latest target of the ''Unabomber'', so called because of his earlier attacks on university and airline employees.

The bomber appears to be motivated by a loathing for modern technology and the FBI has suggested that the latest attack may be linked to Young & Rubicam's recently forged relationship with two of America's biggest computer firms, Digital Equipment Corporation and the Xerox Corporation.

A reward of $1 million (Pounds 640,000) has been offered for information leading to an arrest and the FBI has issued a broad profile of the ''Unabomber'' based on fragments of information gleaned from his earlier attacks and a single confirmed sighting in Salt Lake City in 1987. He is described as a white man in his late 30s or 40s, with a ruddy complexion and reddish-blond hair, who is familiar with university life. A man fitting that description was seen kneeling beside an object moments before it exploded. The bomber's earliest victims were airline executives, but he then broadened his range of targets to include experts in computer science, genetics and psychology.

Between 1987 and last year the bombing campaign appeared to subside, but then in June last year The New York Times received a letter from ''an anarchist group calling ourselves FC'', which spoke of a ''newsworthy event''. Soon afterwards, two prominent scientists were seriously injured by almost identical bombs. Charles Epstein, a University of California-San Francisco geneticist, lost several fingers in an explosion on June 22 last year. Two days later, David Gelertner, a Yale computer scientist, was seriously injured by a letter bomb in his office.

The New York Times may itself provide another clue to the ''Unabomber's'' methods: four victims, including Mr Mosser, were cited in the newspaper as leaders in their various fields shortly before they were attacked. A week ago the newspaper said that Mr Mosser had been promoted to the post of general manager at Young & Rubicam.

A former journalist, Mr Mosser served for four years as a naval officer in Vietnam and was based in London as vice-chairman of Burson-Marsteller, the wholly owned public relations subsidiary of Young & Rubicam, before joining the parent company in New York earlier this year.

The neatly wrapped package, about the size of hardback book and addressed to Mr Mosser, arrived at his mansion in Caldwell, New Jersey, last Friday. He was preparing to take his wife and their two children to buy a Christmas tree on Saturday when he opened the parcel, which exploded, blowing a large hole through the kitchen counter and killing him instantly. His wife and two children were elsewhere in the house at the time.

The bomber usually leaves the initials ''FC'' engraved on his bombs which may ''stand for an obscene phrase belittling computers'', investigators say.

The bombs are meticulously assembled using components that are impossible to trace, such as string, glue and wood which is often lovingly polished to a high sheen.

Investigators believe that the bomber takes extraordinary pride in his murderous methods and is almost certainly working alone. ''If it is a protest, it is a private protest,'' Thomas Blomberg, a Florida State criminologist, said.

Officials suspect that the bomber does not know his victims Mr Mosser, for instance, had no known occupational link to any of the other victims but rather is seeking to make some kind of symbolic statement, the nature of which they have been unable to pinpoint.

Faith Hochberg, US Attorney for Northern New Jersey, said: ''We are all today determined to end the death and destruction that these bombings have wrought.''