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Retired FBI Expert Solidified Brother’s Suspicions in Unabomber Case

April 9, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After months of suspicion and unease, David Kaczynski put the FBI on the trail of his older brother when the bureau’s retired chief hostage negotiator and a team of experts concluded there was a very good chance he wrote the Unabomber’s manifesto.

That analysis was given at year-end to a Chicago private detective Kaczynski had hired in late October to resolve fears he had harbored about his 53-year-old brother, Theodore, since late last summer.

During the first week in January, David hired Washington lawyer Tony Bisceglie to relay those fears to the FBI.

``I consider David to be a national hero,″ retired FBI negotiator Clinton Van Zandt said in an interview Monday of the 46-year-old Schenectady, N.Y., social worker. He added that the discovery by federal agents of a partial and a complete pipe bomb at Theodore Kaczynski’s Montana cabin indicates David ``could very well have saved lives by coming forward.″

David Kaczynski’s suspicions had been raised first by reading of the Unabomber’s links to Chicago, Berkeley, Calif., and Salt Lake City, all places Theodore had lived.

But he put them aside until October when he read the Unabomber’s 35,000-word manifesto on the inhumanity of industrial society. That left him uneasy enough to hire Chicago private detective Susan Swanson to investigate his own brother. She, in turn, contacted Van Zandt.

``David wanted very much to believe that Ted was not involved,″ Bisceglie told a news conference here Monday. Now, David ``is somewhat in shock. I think that he believes that his brother is involved.″

Van Zandt said that when he, a psychiatrist and a linguist finished analyzing two of Theodore Kaczynski’s personal letters, he telephoned detective Swanson that ``we felt very strongly this individual could be the author of the Unabomber’s manifesto and she needed to immediately get her client to the FBI.″

``There are similarities in ideology ... in phraseology and ... in the spelling of certain words,″ Bisceglie said.

In addition, ``there were sentences that jumped off the page to me,″ said Van Zandt, referring to Theodore’s denials in the letters that he would commit violent crimes. ``This person had no reason to say that so it looked like he was concealing reality.″

Among the first things Bisceglie disclosed to an FBI agent in Washington in January was the result of the Van Zandt team’s comparison of the manifesto with letters by an individual he did not identify.

``The information was taken very seriously,″ Bisceglie said. That was not surprising: Van Zandt had worked in the FBI behavioral sciences unit that does psychological profiles of serial killers like the Unabomber. A 25-year veteran of the FBI when he retired last August, Van Zandt had negotiated with David Koresh at Waco, Texas, during the Branch Davidian standoff in 1993.

Working with a 10-year-old, four-page letter and a 1- or 2-year-old, one-page letter provided by Swanson, Van Zandt’s first team of analysts concluded there was a better than 60 percent chance the same person wrote the letters and the manifesto.

Two weeks later, Van Zandt and two communications experts concluded a separate analysis of ``the overall themes, the style and form″ and concluded there was more than an 80 percent chance of one author.

While Bisceglie described David Kaczynski’s private agony, federal prosecutors from seven states _ California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey and Utah _ met at the Justice Department to plan their legal strategy against Theodore Kaczynski.

The former Berkeley math professor, charged in Montana with possessing bomb parts, is suspected of the bombings that killed three people and injured 23 in nine states over the past 18 years.

Federal investigators have placed Theodore Kaczynski in northern California on dates when bombs were mailed from the region, a law enforcement official said Monday.

In a preliminary discussion of where and how many federal cases might be brought in the Unabomber case, the prosecutors noted that two killings, one in northern New Jersey in 1994 and another in Sacramento in 1995, occurred after the federal death penalty was restored to laws that might apply, a senior federal official said on condition of anonymity. ``Different factors favor different sites,″ the official said.

With ``no evidence of any conspiracy,″ the official said, the Unabomber cannot be charged in one city with a conspiracy count wrapping in all the bombings.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland, who oversaw the investigation of the bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building a year ago, was named to coordinate the Unabomber case.

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