For 17 years, an elusive criminal sent homemade bombs that targeted universities, airlines and computer stores, killing three people and injuring 23 others. The FBI branded him “Unabomber” — shorthand for his early targets: Universities and Airlines. Despite an investigation that spanned eight states and involved about 500 agents, the FBI was flummoxed. Then, in 1995, a turning point: The suspect mailed a 35,000-word anti-technology treatise (more than 60 single-spaced pages) to The New York Times and The Washington Post. If it was published, he vowed, he would “desist from terrorism.”
The FBI urged the newspapers to comply, hoping someone would recognize themes in the document. After much debate, the Post printed the manifesto; the Times shared the costs. Months later, the much-hoped-for tip arrived — from the bomber’s brother — eventually leading to a small cabin in the wilds of Montana. There, a troubled genius, Theodore Kaczynski, was arrested, bringing an end to the Unabomber’s reign of terror.