Ted Kaczynski – The mind of a genius

The Unabomber. A domestic terrorist who spent seventeen years targeting random people with bombs sent through the mail. He killed three people and injured 27 others during his campaign. His capture marked the end of the longest manhunt in FBI history.

Kaczynski famously wrote a Manifesto titled “Industrial Society and Its Future”, which he sent to multiple newspapers in the form of several letters and vowed that he would stop his bombings only if it was published in a major newspaper. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post both published the entire Manifesto in 1995.

During high school, Kaczynski was reported by his peers to be something of a loner, although he exceeded academically, and even skipped 11th grade, graduating a full year early. He was accepted into Harvard University with a full scholarship at age 16, where he continued to excel. During his time at Harvard, however, he participated in a controversial study done by psychologist Henry Murray. During the experiment, subjects were asked to write an essay on their personal beliefs, and were then subjected to hours of personal insults and attacks.

It is believed that Kaczynski participated in over 200 hours for this experiment, and that his mental health suffered severely as a result. He still graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and went on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in the same subject, although from the University of Michigan, rather than Harvard. At 25, Kaczynski became the youngest assistant professor in history of the University of California, where he was hired to teach undergraduate geometry and calculus. However, he resigned two years later without giving a reason.

He moved into a cabin he built in the woods in Montana in 1971, where he survived mostly self-sufficiently until 1975, where he was disturbed by the encroachment of building sites around the area where he lived, which he began to vandalize in an effort to sabotage development.

That was only the beginning.

Kaczynski began using mail bombs which he sent through the U.S Postal Service, or occasionally hand-delivered himself, in a series of co-ordinated attacks that began in 1978. His first target was a professor of engineering, Buckley Crist, who escaped injury when a package with his return address was found outside his office building. He called security to tell them he had not sent the package, and a guard suffered an injured hand when opening the package.

Over the next seven years, Kaczynski sent nine homemade pipe bombs to multiple targets, including academic administrators and executives at two different airlines. In 1985, the first death attributed to Kaczynski was caused – computer store owner Hugh Scrutton. Until that point, no fatalities had occurred, and two more would be attributed to him, including his last known attack, which killed timber industry lobbyist Gilbert Murray, which took place on April 24th, 1995.

The writings in his manifesto were considered “reasonable” by critics and academics, despite the scorn he received for his violent actions. He was found on April 3rd, 1996, and was indicted on ten counts of illegally transporting, mailing, and using bombs, and three counts of murder.

His attorney wanted him to enter an insanity plea, but Kaczynski refused, and interestingly, pleaded guilty on all charges.

He remains incarcerated, serving eight life sentences.

During his time in prison, Kaczynski has written and published two books, both expanding on ideas written in his original manifesto.

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