Profile of a bomber

March 7, 2008 2:41:33 AM PST
So who would do carry out this attack? A terrorist? Was he working alone or in a group? Or is it a vandal? And if he's trying to make a point, what is it? Or is there no point? There are experts at this sort of thing, who profile bombers. And they are busy again Thursday.

The Investigators' Jim Hoffer has the story.

These are key questions since trying to understand who's behind the bombing might help to find him. One expert says whoever is behind it is trying to feel important and powerful.

The mind behind the maker of the crude explosive device set off at the Time Square recruiting center is likely a mind bent on vandalism, not terrorism.

"Vandalism is an attention-seeking crime where the person wants recognition for being able to cause an explosion or cause damage," forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner said.

Dr. Welner has spent years studying the minds of some of the nation's most notorious bombers, including Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber who went on to plant deadly explosives at several abortion clinics.

Dr. Welner says the Time Square bomber is much less a threat, even though he believes there are clear links between today's crude explosion and those earlier at the British and Mexican consulates in Midtown.

"What we're dealing with is a serial vandal here, who recognizes that because of his creative skill in assembling an explosive, he can get a lot of attention if he targets a high-profile spot," Dr. Welner said.

An FBI report into the psychology of a bomber says he is usually "of an above-average intelligence" and "possesses unknown, untapped destructive capabilities."

"People who've chosen explosive destructiveness are typically those who take a lot of pride in their intellect, but are underachievers and socially inept," Dr. Welner said.

Dr. Welner says this bomber is not driven by any ideology, nor belief, rather what motivates him is pure ego.

"You're dealing with a person who is so caught up in getting attention for himself that he may make the mistake of doing something destructive enough to end up in prison for a long time," Dr. Welner said. "At which point, he'd realize was it worth it?"

Dr. Welner says that the use of a military ammo box to hold the explosive rather than crude grenades used in the consulate bombings speaks to his creativity. He says the bomber usually thinks of himself as a tinkerer.

The early-morning timing of the explosions may tell us that the bomber does not want to get caught and he does not want to hurt anyone. He may simply want to make a point.