Mexican Terrorists Target Nanotech Researchers With Package Bombs

Mexican terrorists target nanotech researchers with package bombs (Times Union, August 24, 2011):

A Mexican terrorist group is targeting nanotechnology researchers around the world.

The group, which is influenced by the Unabomber, has sent package bombs to universities and research facilities in South America and Europe. A number of victims, including professors, were injured after they opened mail that exploded.

Albany is one of the world’s leading nanotechnology hubs, centered around the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany.

No attacks have happened on U.S. soil, though some universities are increasing mailroom security to be on alert for package bombs, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week.

Part of the terror group’s concern could be the plot of a science fiction film. In various manifestos, they have claimed nano particles could take over human beings and turn them into “nanocyborgs.”

Earlier this month, two professors were injured when a package bomb exploded at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, just outside Mexico City. The group claiming responsibility, which calls itself “Individuals Tending to Savagery,” is also linked to attacks in France, Spain and Chile.

In recent weeks, the Capital Region has been recognized in prominent stories in the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal for its nanotechnology boom.

UAlbany’s Nanocollege did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute also has a leading nanotechnology program. On Tuesday, an RPI official said in a statement the school was aware of the threat and has people on campus working on it.

“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is always our top priority,” said Roger Johnson, director of Public Safety. “We are in close communication with safety and criminal justice organizations at the local, state, and federal level, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

An analyst who helped identify the Unabomber told the Chronicle of Higher Education the group’s posts indicate it could be run by someone well-educated and affiliated with a college.

The terrorist group claims Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski as an inspiration. Kaczynski killed three professors and wounded 23 others in a mail bombing campaign of more than 20 years. He also penned anti-technology screeds and was stopped after his brother David Kaczynski of Schenectady suspected he might be the Unabomber and turned him in.

This is the first instance of a group closely using the same methods of violence since the Unabomber was arrested in 1996, David Kaczynski said Tuesday.

Kaczynski said he was chilled to learn of the similarities and said the only other terrorist who cited his brother as an inspiration was the shooter of 77 people in Norway who wrote an anti-Muslim missive partially plagiarized from Theodore Kaczynski’s writings.

“It’s grieves me to think my brother is being held up as an example for this type of violence,” David Kaczynski said.

In a news conference earlier this month, Mexico State Attorney General Alfredo Castillo said the terror group opposes experiments with nanotechnology and is connected to attacks in Europe. He recommended Mexican universities step up security measures.

Nanotechnology is essentially technology at the atomic and molecular level. Nanotechnology has applications in not only computer chip development, but also in medicine, homeland defense, energy and even textiles.

The terrorist group posted a manifesto online that expressed fears nanoparticles could reproduce uncontrollably and form a “gray goo” that would snuff out life on Earth.

“When these modified viruses affect the way we live through a nano-bacteriological war, unleashed by some laboratory error or by the explosion of nano-pollution that affects the air, food, water, transport, in short the entire world, then all of those who defend nanotechnology and don’t think it is a threat will realize that it was a grave error to let it grow out of control,” a statement said.

The group left a note with the bomb it placed on the campus of Polytechnical University of Mexico Valley that stated “Open fire on the development of nanotechnology and those who support it!”

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