DES MOINES, Iowa – The note found accompanying pipe bombs in rural mailboxes in three Midwestern states reflects a writer who is angry with the government and appears to be either working alone or in a very small group, a former FBI profiler said Saturday.
Eight bombs were found Friday in eastern Iowa and western Illinois, including six that exploded and injured six people. On Saturday, five more bombs appeared in central Nebraska mailboxes; none exploded.
"Attention people ..." the note says. "If the government controls what you want to do, they control what you can do."
It was signed, "Someone Who Cares."
"This is someone whose thinking ... whose anger, sense of frustration is so strong, that he doesn't care who else is injured because he feels his message is so important," said Clint Van Zandt, who started his own behavioral analysis company after a 25-year career with the FBI that include leading the team credited with identifying the Unabomber.
Van Zandt believes the bomber may have written to his local newspaper or the government with his grievances and felt ignored.
"This guy didn't just fall off of a turnip truck. This is a guy who is angry with government," Van Zandt said.
Nothing in the note indicates the writer was a woman, a foreigner or anyone whose primary language is not English, he said. The use of the phrase "attention getter" seems to indicate the writer is older, and other aspects indicate the writer may have mental health problems.
Looking at the timing of the bombings, he said, "we're drawn to April 15th. This is someone who may well have some tax protest issues."
On Saturday, FBI special agent Jim Bogner invited the bomber to contact the FBI with his grievances.
"We want to assure him he has our attention and we want to understand what the situation is," Bogner said. "It's a much better option to exercise than planting bombs and injuring people who have nothing to do with these grievances."
FBI officials have not said whether they think the bombings in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska were the work of a single individual or a group.
The first bombs appeared in a jagged circle around the Mississippi River, between Dubuque and Davenport. One person driving the route in one night "would be a very doable thing," said Jon Petersen, an agent with Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Van Zandt said the geography of the bombs found Saturday in Nebraska indicated it would have been easier to plant them with help.
"I would suggest it's either one person or a small, small group of participants, people who have known each other for a long time or shared distrust of the government, tax issues, health issues, land use, grazing rights — all of these would be consistent."
That the bombs were planted overnight indicates they likely were not targeted at rural residents but rather at the mail carriers, Van Zandt said.
"It's his believe we wouldn't go to the mailbox until the mailman got there," he said. "You know if he comes at noon every day, so there's no use in going out at 8 a.m. His target is either the post office itself or mail carriers as representatives of the government."
Van Zandt believes the bomber may have used phrases similar to those in the note in his conversations with others.
"This person who did the bombings, or he and his group of friends are going to be known by those around them ... as people who have railed against the government," he said. "I think the FBI will be asking people to come forward and share what they know."
Van Zandt said the series of bombings probably would not continue for long.
"I don't see this as keep happening day after day after day," he said. "They will make a small number of devices and then do that and hope that the fear, like in the case of the anthrax letter, which is probably their model, will continue."