May 9 2020
Counterterrorism cops are investigating whether a “bomb” left in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle was the work of Central American anarchists, the Record can reveal.
An email sent to the police contained a link to an extremist website suggesting that the Mexican group Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (ITS) was responsible.
No one was injured when army demining experts carried out a controlled explosion on the device hidden in a shoebox and left in a public shelter in 2018.
Detective Inspector Stephen Clark of the Organized Crime and Counterterrorism Unit said: “Although more than two years have passed since the package was left in a shelter in Princes Street Gardens, we let us remain more engaged than ever in this investigation.
“For now, it seems to have been an isolated incident but one that we continue to take very seriously.
“The public, as always, is encouraged to remain vigilant but not alarmed and to report any suspicious behavior that they witness. “
It was unclear why ITS might want to target Edinburgh or why it took more than a month for the group to claim responsibility.
But a photograph included in the blog allegedly led detectives to investigate whether whoever posted it had prior access to the device or to evidence in the investigation.
The message was sent via a US-based messaging service designed to protect user anonymity by withholding Internet addresses.
A link in the email is to the Spanish-speaking extremist blog Maldicion which references the January 11 discovery and includes a photo claiming to be the device.
Police have not confirmed whether the photograph was of the found device, but the photo matches a detailed description given to media at the time, including a written warning laden with profanity found in the shoebox.
Roughly translated as “Individuals Tending to the Wild,” ITS describe themselves as “eco-anarchists” in a series of rambling manifestos posted on blogs.
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium of experts describes them as: “A violent fringe group with anarcho-primitivist views.
“ITS sees technology and civilization as essentially doomed and leading mankind to ecological catastrophe. “
The group had previously claimed a number of acts in Central and South America and even continental Europe – but apparently never before in the UK.
They first rose to prominence in 2011 when a package from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico City exploded, seriously injuring a robotics researcher and bursting the eardrum of a computer scientist.
University of Edinburgh terrorism expert Dr Andy Hom said ITS may have planted the Princes Street Gardens device or, more likely, simply took credit for it because no one from other hadn’t.
Or it may have been the work of a “fanboy” in the group trying to help their cause, Dr. Hom suggested.
“Politically motivated terrorist groups attack symbolic or seemingly ‘random’ targets in the hope of getting governments to react in debilitating and harmful ways,” he added.
“The message claiming credit for the Princes Street Gardens bomb takes a number of twists and turns but is consistent with it, while also containing elements common to other terrorist groups.
“For example, it ties the Princes Street Garden bombshell to past grievances and threatens future incidents to make sense of a coordinated campaign, and it simmers misogyny and toxic masculinity.”
There are a number of ideological links between ITS and “Unabomber,” Ted Kaczynski.
He eluded US intelligence services for nearly 20 years while leading an email bombing campaign on individuals and companies linked to technological advances.
Included in the menacing blog rant accompanying the photo are the words: “This is why I have to experiment with fire, poison, bombs, even if the attack fails.” Next time it might not be, until I satisfy my selfish satanity.
DI Clark called on anyone with information about the Princes Street Gardens device to contact the agents.
“I would like to thank those who have come forward previously and while I appreciate that this incident took place in 2018, I urge anyone who might help our investigation to contact us or contact the Crimestoppers charity of anonymously, “he added.
Those with information can contact Police Scotland via 101 and quote incident number 1204 of February 21, 2018.
Anyone wishing to send images or footage to help with the investigation can send an email to [email protected]
Anonymous reports can also be made to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.