The so-called Alphabet Bomber, convicted of planting a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport that killed three people in 1974, was denied parole Tuesday despite his promise that “the people of California can only gain” from his release.
“I’m considered to be a top threat to the United States government,” said Muharem Kurbegovic, 44, arguing that the country would benefit by his parole because he would immediately be deported to his native Yugoslavia.
During a four-hour Board of Prison Terms hearing, the bearded, balding inmate was accused of making threats against several public officials, including President Reagan. Two Secret Service agents watched the proceedings.
Kurbegovic, in turn, offered long explanations of his behavior, some sounding like the spy novels he said he now reads in prison.
Seeking release in part on “humanitarian” grounds, Kurbegovic said authorities had injected him with the deadly AIDS virus, leaving him with only two more years to live. Rising from his seat, Kurbegovic showed the three-member panel a bruise on his left arm that he attributed to Kaposi’s sarcoma, a symptom of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Prison medical officials have said he tested negative for AIDS.
Unmoved by Kurbegovic’s pleas, the board ruled that he is unsuitable for parole and would pose an “unreasonable risk of danger to society if (he) were released.”
Kurbegovic, who was making his first appearance before the board since he was sentenced to life in prison in November, 1980, was told that it will be three years before another parole hearing is scheduled.
Kurbegovic was arrested in August, 1974, two weeks after a powerful bomb exploded in an airport locker, killing Leonard Yumin Hsu, 46, of Lomita, Harper Glass, 64, of Inglewood and Robert Moncur, 50, of New Zealand. Another 36 people were injured, including a priest who lost a leg.
Kurbegovic was also charged with the firebombings of the homes of a municipal judge and two police commissioners.
The judge had presided over a trial in which Kurbegovic had been acquitted of a lewd conduct charge for allegedly masturbating in a public restroom. The commissioners had denied him a license to open a dance hall.
After an eight-month trial in which he acted as his own attorney, Kurbegovic was convicted of 25 counts of murder, arson, attempted murder, possession of explosive material and exploding a bomb.
Introduced as evidence were a series of tapes he made before his arrest in which he claimed to be the chief military officer of a group called Aliens of America. In his communiques, made under an assumed name and delivered to radio stations and newspapers, he demanded revisions of the immigration and sex crimes laws.
He became known as the Alphabet Bomber because of his alleged scheme to detonate bombs in locations that would make an anagram of Aliens of America.
“I never committed any of the acts that I was convicted of, not a single one,” Kurbegovic said Tuesday, although he acknowledged that he was “somewhat peripherally associated” with the people responsible for those deeds.
Describing Aliens of America as a “fiction,” Kurbegovic said that in reality he was a decommissioned intelligence operative for the Yugoslav government. His objective was to “undermine and erode the foundation of Western Civilization, which is the Holy Bible,” he said.
In 1981, before he was transferred to San Quentin, Kurbegovic pleaded no contest to charges that he possessed weapons at the California Institution for Men in Chino. In subsequent years, he has been accused of a number of prison violations, including possession of explosives and weapons and of throwing his excrement at prison guards.
‘Intent to Kill’
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office was alerted that Kurbegovic had “stated on more than one occasion that he intended to kill” Deputy Dist. Attys. Dinko Bozanich and Lea Purwin D’Agostino, his co-prosecutors, and retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Nancy Watson, who tried him, according to a memorandum cited at the hearing.
Although Kurbegovic’s murder trial was delayed more than five years while he underwent several competency trials and was incarcerated at Atascadero State Hospital, he said Tuesday that there is nothing wrong with his mental health.