FBI trying to look into bomber's mind Experts hope to use psychological evidence to find a suspect

July 29, 1996|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

WASHINGTON -- While FBI agents in Atlanta conduct a massive search for the Olympic bomber, agents in Virginia are engaged in a more subtle task: developing a psychological profile. "Everything that's been collected in terms of the evidence -- the 911 call, everything else we get in -- will be referred to our Behavioral Science Unit" at Quantico, Va., FBI special agent David Tubbs told reporters in Atlanta yesterday. "They'll review everything and attempt to come up with a profile."

Law enforcement officials in Washington said it was still early to develop a concrete profile in this case. But bombers do tend to display "a repeating general profile," in the words of John Douglas, a former FBI agent who specialized in criminal personality profiling.

"They're of at least average intelligence, often quite above, though underachievers," Douglas explained in his book "Mind Hunter." "They're neat, orderly and meticulous, careful planners, non-confrontational, non-athletic, cowardly, inadequate personalities."

They also tend to be younger white men who act alone -- qualities that track with the 911 call made minutes before the bombing Saturday.

"We learn most about bombers from their communications," Douglas said, and many officials consider the call a key piece of evidence.

Though most officials are operating on the "lone bomber" theory, Tubbs cautioned, "It's premature at this time to even speculate whether it's an individual or a group."

Analysts will also try to determine the bomber's motives. While terrorism is an elastic term -- bombings terrorize bystanders -- most federal agents associate it with attempts to make political statements.

But officials said the Olympic bomber may be more like "an authority killer," motivated more by anger than ideology. Their targets are people or structures who symbolize the hated authority, which can be a government, a business entity, or something else.

"Random victims often are wounded and/or killed during the assault as a result of their actual or perceived association with the authority figure or the institution being attacked," according to a "Crime Classification Manual" co-written by a former FBI behavioral expert, Robert Ressler.

Officials are already developing theories for Saturday's explosion. They are speculating whether it may have been an attack aimed at the federal government, the city of Atlanta, Olympic commercialism or even Olympic ideals.

Some officials said that for some people, the international flavor of the Olympics may symbolize the "New World Order," which is the source of hatred for anti-government activists who fear some sort of worldwide takeover.

While agents are investigating "citizen militias," which often hold this view, most officials said past profiles indicate that bombers act alone, apart from any group.

"He's a nut case," a federal law enforcement official said.

In a 1995 analysis of the Oklahoma City bombing conducted for the Dallas Morning News, Ressler said bombers also often seek to compensate for their own individual insecurities.

"A bomb is an expression of raw power," he said. "It reflects the tremendous helplessness of the individual."

Pub Date: 7/29/96

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