Austin Bomber – Lessons Learned


What Your Organization Can Learn from the Austin Bomber Incidents

(1) Mail Bombs are Nothing New

A Catalogue Of US Parcel Bomb Attacks – 

This article mentions only recent U.S. mail bombers.  As far back as the early 1700’s a package bomb was delivered to a gentleman in Denmark.  There have been numerous incidents since that time.  In the United States, a mail bomb sent to President Roosevelt was intercepted by the mailroom in 1933.  In 1947, letter bombs were sent to President Truman.  These are only the high profile cases.  The actual occurrence of mail bombs in the U.S. is too high to list.

(2) For the Price of a Stamp, Your Organization and Your Assets Could be at Risk

The Ease of the Postal Service Makes It a Vector for Violence – 

Again and again, we see that the anonymous nature of the USPS and other delivery services is attractive to those who wish to create destruction and incite fear.
Mail threats are a low-cost, accessible form of terrorism. For the price of a stamp, your organization is at risk for disruption or real harm.

It is, unfortunately, both cheap and relatively easy to put together a mail bomb with hardware store ingredients utilizing instructions found on the internet.

(3) All deliveries Should Be Screened

Package bound for Austin detonates at FedEx facility – 

Whether the letters and packages come in the USPS or through delivery services like FedEx or even left at your business doorstep —  all incoming deliveries need to be safely screened.  The Austin bomber left packages at residences.  He also used FedEx.  There is no sure way to know a letter or package is safe based on its origin or method of delivery without proper screening.

(4) It’s All too Familiar

Austin bombings and the explosive echoes of the Unabomber – 

Although the Unabomber was able to carry out destructive bombings over 17 years, the serial nature of the Austin Bomber has a lot of parallels with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s methods. We can’t know when it might happen again. Or where it might happen. Or whether someone will strike in residential neighborhoods, or at large multinational corporations. Maybe somewhere in between.

(5) There Might Not Be a “Why”

What Makes a Serial Bomber Tick? – 

The Austin bomber killed himself before he was captured. In many of the historical cases, we do know why these people decided to kill and maim via the mail or a delivered package. However, there are cases like this one where we might not be able to determine a motive. From what we can tell today, the Austin bomber seemed relatively normal. There were no outward signs this kind of deadly activity might be in the works.

The message here is that we will not necessarily see it coming.  Mail security and screening is the only way to ensure safety.

For more information on suspicious packages, please check out our Signs of Dangerous Mail below.

Basic steps for Mailroom safety include:

1. Provide training
2. Put a plan in writing
2. Install correct sensor equipment
3. Train employees
4. Run practice drills

If this is not possible, consider outsourcing mail screening to a third party or sending mail to a third party screening facility.

As always, I appreciate your comments.