Extremists often argue that although their heroes or leaders have died, their ideology lives on. Jihadis have said this of Osama bin Laden and Yemeni-American Al-Qaeda leader Anwar Al-'Awlaki, and 3D-printed firearm enthusiasts and developers have said this of "JStark," a German pioneer of that movement who died in October 2021 following a police raid. Though Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, is still alive, his followers are making similar statements about him since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early 2022.
In his 1978-1995 campaign of letter bombing, Kaczynski killed three people and wounded 23 others. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has authored several books articulating his anti-technology views, which have gained popularity in recent years, and has many supporters around the world and many readers from across the political spectrum; some of his ideas have been embraced by anarchists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, fascists, and more. Kaczynski has never endorsed racialist views and has even explicitly denounced them, but this has not curbed his popularity among their adherents.
Kaczynski's hostility to technology resonates with those who are suspicious of new technologies, particularly medical technologies. His militant environmentalism is gaining adherents. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have sparked a new interest in Kaczynski's writing, which expresses his clear stance against genetic engineering and against many developments in the medical and technological fields; his views are in line with those of conspiracy theorists who have argued throughout the pandemic that the COVID-19 vaccines can, inter alia, alter genetics and DNA. Graphics created by Kaczynski followers have suggested that if Kaczynski – aka "Uncle Ted" – were free today, he would be targeting individuals such as Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla because of his oversight of the manufacture of one of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines. Others have speculated that if Kaczynski were active today, he would seek to assassinate tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.
Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, there has been an increase in anti-government expression, among militia groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers and also among individuals with various grievances against the government. Many who fall into these categories federal agencies such as the FBI and the ATF as enemies; Kaczynski eluded these authorities for 17 years before his arrest in 1996.
Kaczynski's influence can be seen among individuals and groups who discuss offline organizing and actions they believe to be in line with his writing.
The following report will examine Kaczynski-inspired threats from his supporters, the adoption of his ideas by various extremist groups including neo-Nazis, and his widespread and enduring international appeal to extremist groups across the spectrum, many of whom view him as a hero.
YOU MUST BE SUBSCRIBED TO THE MEMRI DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT MONITOR (DTTM) TO READ THE FULL REPORT. GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA CAN REQUEST A COPY BY WRITING TO [email protected] WITH THE REPORT TITLE IN THE SUBJECT LINE.
Kaczynski-Inspired Threats To Individuals, Institutions, And Infrastructure
Ted Kaczynski supporters on various social media platforms have threatened tech entrepreneurs or large corporations. One individual who claims to correspond with Kaczynski shared a meme which threatened violence at ATF agents.
Kaczynski's International Following
Ted Kaczynski's ideology is international in its messaging, and his beliefs resonate with many around the world. Kaczynski has said that an anti-tech movement would only succeed with mass international support, and, as will be seen later in this report, it is for this reason that he dismisses a racialist approach to the anti-tech revolution.
Private Social Media Group With Over 1,000 Users Worldwide Promotes Kaczynski's Ideas
A private social media group's administrators and moderators claim to be based in countries around the world. One post in the group stressed the importance of Chinese, Arabic and Hindi translations of Kaczynski’s manifestos given the massive populations of these speakers and the immense global importance of their respective societies.
Neo-Nazis Promote Kaczynski
Despite Kaczynski's position on racialist politics, many neo-Nazis promote him and admire his tactics. Many neo-Nazis on social media have been drawn to Kaczynski and have focused on his violent mail bomb campaign, which they condone.
Neo-Nazis Promote Kaczynski, Cherry-Pick His Ideas To Suit Their Narrative
In a recent livestream a veteran neo-Nazi author was asked for his opinion on Kaczynski. He stated that Kaczynski was highly intelligent and noted his deep concern for the environment. He conceded, however, that he did not think Kaczynski was racist.
Reactions To News Of Kaczynski's Terminal Cancer Diagnosis: A Pledge To Continue His Legacy
On February 6, 2022, many Kaczynski followers expressed their sorrow upon hearing that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and moved to a specialized medical facility. Many announced their intentions to continue the work inspired by his writings.
One supporter on social media urged others to write to Kaczynski in an attempt to lift his spirits. Kaczynski’s prison address was provided in the post.