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Unabomber Suspect Kaczynski Accused of Possessing Bombs

By William Claiborne
The Washington Post
HELENA, Mont.

Surrounded by federal marshals, Theodore J. Kaczynski, a taciturn and bearded hermit identified by federal agents as the terrorist known as the Unabomber, was brought before a federal judge Thursday and charged with possessing components for a "destructive device."

The single felony charge made no mention of the Unabomber's 17-year string of bombing attacks that killed three people and injured 23 others. Federal officials said it was filed simply to hold Kaczynski, 53, while federal agents complete their search of the suspect's remote wilderness cabin 40 miles north of here.

Wearing orange prison garb and an enigmatic smile, the Harvard graduate and former Berkeley mathematics professor, who has lived in an isolated Montana cabin for more than two decades, said little more than "yes" and "no" to a series of procedural questions before being taken back to the local county jail to be held without bond.

In an affidavit filed after agents took Kaczynski into custody Wednesday and made a preliminary search of his cabin, FBI special agent Donald J. Sachtleben portrayed the residence as an elaborately equipped pipe bomb factory despite the structure's lack of plumbing and electricity.

The agent said that he found "chemicals and other materials that, in my opinion, are designed and intended for use in manufacturing a destructive device, namely a pipe bomb including what appears to be a partially completed pipe bomb."

Sachtleben offered no opinion on whether the paper-wrapped pipe bomb had been manufactured before or after the Unabomber wrote his exhaustive 35,000-word "manifesto" that was published last September by The Washington Post and the New York Times after the Unabomber promised to stop planting bombs that kill people.

The FBI affidavit said agents found 10 binder notebooks that contained sketches and diagrams of electrical circuitry commonly used in building explosive devices as well as handwritten notes in English and Spanish that describe how chemical compounds can be used in making bombs. The agent said Kaczynski is able to write in Spanish.

Agents also found pipes capped at one end, containers with potassium chlorates, sodium chlorates, aluminum, lead and silver oxide - which are commonly used in making bombs - as well as aluminum ingots and metal filings "consistent with aluminum," which the affidavit said can be used as a catalyst in an explosive material.

"Based on my experience in the investigation of the use of destructive devices, my examination of the above-described materials it is my opinion that these components were designed to be, could be, and were intended to be readily assembled into a destructive device such as a pipe bomb," Sachtleben said.

Federal officials said outside the courtroom that the searchers also found two manual typewriters which are to be compared to typed communications sent by the Unabomber over the years.

Federal agents continued to search the cabin Thursday, using X-ray equipment and other bomb-detecting devices both as a precaution against possible booby traps and to avoid contaminating evidence.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles C. Lovell asked Kaczynski whether he had read the five-page complaint and supporting affidavit filed by the FBI. "I'd like a few minutes to read it," a wan-looking Kaczynski, accompanied by his court-appointed public defender, told the judge and a courtroom packed with local spectators and reporters who descended on this town after news broke Wednesday of Kaczynski's arrest. After leafing through the document, Kaczynski told Lovell he had sufficiently examined it.

The single federal firearms count with which he has been charged carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. But in the past, a single count such as this has been used to buy time to build a bigger case, with more charges.

Kaczynski had been under FBI surveillance for about the last month after his younger brother, David, cleaning up his parents' house to sell it, discovered letters and other documents written by Theodore that seemed to resemble the Unabomber's writings. David then contacted federal authorities, through a Washington, D.C., lawyer. On Wednesday, law enforcement officials moved in on his primitive cabin, outside the hamlet of Lincoln.