Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 Southam Inc.

The Gazette (Montreal)

December 19, 1994, Monday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 417 words

HEADLINE: Mail bomb sends message that we're not safe anywhere




When the Unabomber's package blew up in Thomas Mosser's hands and instantly killed the ad executive in his New Jersey home Dec. 10, a retired New York City detective vividly felt the explosion.

Anthony Senft, who was maimed by a bomb planted at New York City Police Headquarters on New Year's Eve 1982, said Mosser's killing brought back all the traumatic details of the blast that almost took his own life.

"It rattles you, you don't sleep for a few days," said Senft, 48. "You have a tremendous amount of compassion for the survivors."

Senft lost sight in his right eye, had five operations, skin grafts and suffered hearing loss from the bomb set by terrorists.

"I survived, I'm really fortunate," he said. "But it never subsides. I was affected when they bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, and when a bomb blows up in Ireland it affects me."

Mosser's wife and children were elsewhere in the house when the mail bomb exploded in the kitchen. It was the 15th such device sent by the Unabomber - so-called because he has targeted university or airline employees - in 16 years.

"I feel sorry for them ... there's a rippling effect. Nothing's over for them, it never goes away."

The anxiety and vulnerability felt so strongly by Mosser's family and a firsthand victim like Senft reverberate in the minds of seemingly untouched citizens.

"We don't know how the Unabomber has chosen the victims, so it is difficult to know who would feel most vulnerable," said Naftali Berrill, a John Jay College professor and forensic psychologist. "He has targeted different kinds of people, so it's not just one group to be particularly panic-stricken.

"Does everybody believe they could be a victim? I guess so, if he could do it for 16 years and not be caught," Berrill said.

In the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing and the Police Headquarters blast, public institutions were targeted. A mail bomb is more sinister, Berrill said.

"It plucks us out of our normal complacency. It is sending trouble to your home. Here's someone who finds out where you live and intrudes on your privacy," he said. "It leads us to ask, are we safe anywhere?"

Steven Davis, director of investigations for a corporate security firm, agreed: "It's worse than the World Trade Centre. That we think of as preventable, because it was a car bomb that could have been intercepted before it went into the garage. But the mail must go through, and a mail bomb sends the message that we're not safe anywhere."