The Italian Unabomber Copycat That Has Never Been Caught

For decades, a domestic terrorist in the United States baffled authorities (per the FBI). He sent lethal bombs, described by the agency as "untraceable," to random targets, seemingly with no rhyme or reason. What clues he left were red herrings designed to throw investigators off their game. Over the course of 17 years, his bombs killed three people and injured nearly two dozen more. We're talking about, of course, the so-called "Unabomber," later identified as Ted Kaczynski. He was finally arrested in 1996 and went to prison later, where he remains to this day.

As it turns out, Italy has had its own domestic terrorist whose style takes a page out of the Unabomber's book. The Italian version of the domestic terrorist appears to have last been active in 2006, and they have never been caught and may not even be alive as of November 2022 (via NBC News).

The Italian Unabomber's Reign Of Terror

The first crime attached to the person who would later become known as Italy's Unabomber took place in 1994, according to Stars and Stripes. At that time, a bomb exploded at a bird festival in the city of Sacile. There would be more bombings: One in 1995, then a few quiet years before beginning again in earnest in 2000, setting off a period during which multiple bombs would be found and detonated over the course of several years (via The Independent). Specifically, according to "The Dynamics of a Terrorist Targeting Process," the culprit was responsible for 33 bombs over a 12-year period.

The bombs were small, crude, and stowed in places where they were likely to be seen, including some that may have been intended to lure children. One bomb was a "suspiciously heavy" tube of mayonnaise (per The Independent), another a tube of tomato puree. One was inside a popular hazelnut spread, one in a tube of soap bubbles, at least one in a toy egg. Another was hidden in a candle in a church confessional. According to Italy Magazine, one 9-year-old girl was blinded in one eye and lost three fingers to one of the bombs.

The Italian Unabomber's Unclear Motivations

America's Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was not just a domestic terrorist — he was a domestic terrorist with goals and ideals. As Britannica explains, he was an anti-technology zealot, and though he may not have targeted specific individuals, his bombs were deployed with the goal of making a point, such as by sending them to universities. He also angled for the publication of his manifesto, which ultimately proved to be his undoing.

Whatever the Italian Unabomber's motivations are, he or she has not made them known. It does not appear as if they have written a manifesto, and their motivations, if indeed they have any motivations beyond causing mayhem, are unclear. Further, while Kaczynski delivered his explosives deliberately and with a view towards furthering his agenda, the Italian bombers' bombs have been paced haphazardly, as Star-News reports. And while it remains unclear if he or she is intentionally trying to maim or kill children, they certainly have been at the scene where his bombs detonated; the American bomber does not appear to have targeted children.

A Red Herring

Beginning in 2004, Italian police had a suspect in their serial bomber case: then-49-year-old engineer named Elvo Zornitta (via Stars and Stripes). According to Italy Magazine, police had tied him to a key piece of evidence — a pair of scissors found in his home, which authorities said contained evidence that they had been used in one of the culprit's bombs. However, as Stars and Stripes reported, later questions were raised about whether or not the scissors had been tampered with.

Police had little physical evidence tying Zornitta to the bombs, according to Newenconnect. However, other bombs detonated while he was under surveillance, and that put an end to his role in the case. Eventually, he was awarded 300,000 Euros in compensation, according to Italy 24 Press News. Per Italy Magazine, Zornitta also said that if he ever actually found the person responsible for the crimes he was once charged with, he would "strangle" him.

Silent Since 2006

The last time the Italian Unabomber struck was in 2006 (via NBC News). So what does his 16-year silence indicate? It could mean everything, or it could mean nothing. It's possible that they died, or have become so old that they are incapable of making bombs. They could have run out of money. They could be in prison for an unrelated crime. They could have developed remorse. They could be biding their time. There may be (or have been) more than one.

Meanwhile, Italian police are struggling with whether to treat this as an ongoing investigation or an unsolved cold case. As recently as 2006, as Spiegel International reports, Venice chief prosecutor Vittorio Borraccetti was keen to see their man identified and locked up. "We haven't given up. We're determined to get him. But we must be patient," he said.