|“||I am... become... Death.||”|
A citizen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Vasher greatly excelled in mathematics and also worked as an aerospace engineer for TRX Technologies and Aviation. He graduated from the Philadelphia University of Science and Engineering with high honors after his research allowed TRX to progress further with their work. However, despite his academic and professional success, he was a social outcast in his personal life and also upheld extreme anarchist views, although he was pro-technology. Vasher admired J. Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist who was among those who created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project during the latter years of World War II. His admiration of Oppenheimer stemmed from the latter's progression from a socially-awkward scientist to a world-renowned man, a change that Vasher desired to go through as well. His admiration of Oppenheimer eventually grew into an increasing obsession, and he would make posts about him on online anarchist forums, which described a thorough analysis of Oppenheimer's life.
In 2006, he dated a woman named Kristina Morrow, but the date didn't go well and she posted about it on Facebook, essentially humiliating him. As a result, Vasher quit his job, dropped out of society completely, and moved to Colorado, where he spent his time in a cabin he presumably built himself, living off the land. Having wanted to create a deadly weapon of mass destruction like Oppenheimer did for some time, his failed date with Kristina proved to be his final breaking point. As a result, he spent the following eight years developing a complex, computerized system that would allow him to hack into and take control of passenger jets who were flying nearby his residence wilderness. His plan was to crash several planes into numerous crowded, public locations as part of his unveiling of the system. Once he finished development of the system, Vasher decided to test it on Trans Alliance Airlines Flight 420, which Kristina was flying on to attend a sorority reunion in Phoenix, Arizona. Three days prior to his hacking into the flight, he used a prepaid disposable phone to text Kristina a quote taken from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita (which was referenced by Oppenheimer in one of his quotes): "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds."
A Thousand Suns
In the episode, Vasher manages to crash Trans Alliance Flight 420 near Durango, Colorado, killing a vast majority of the 151 passengers and crew (including Kristina). The sole survivor was the co-pilot, First Officer Frank Canvers, who survived after the cockpit hit a set of power lines that subsequently softened the landing. Because of the suspicious circumstances of the crash, the BAU is called in to investigate the cause of it and create a profile around a potential offender. After conducting a lengthy investigation (which is complicated by many false leads and the unreliable testimony of a conspiracy theorist, Galen Petosky, who witnessed the crash), the team realizes that the plane's computer systems were hacked into, which caused the crash. As they manage to identify Vasher as the unsub based on their profile and their assumption that he would've targeted someone aboard Trans Alliance Flight 420, he hacks into Inter Atlantic Flight 61. Prior to that, he made a hang-up call via a prepaid cell phone to Canvers, whom he believed should've died in the crash.
Because of the high-level threat, President Barack Obama orders two F-16 Falcon fighter jets to fly towards the plane and shoot it down when they are given the order from the military. With not enough time left to save the plane, Garcia manages to find the coordinates from the call Vasher made to Canvers, allowing Hotch, Morgan, and Kate to find his residence and burst inside the home. There, they find Vasher operating a homemade remote control (part of the system he designed) and hold him at gunpoint. Vasher promises to release the plane if the F-16s are called off, then uses the control to dive the plane downward as a threat. Attempting to reason with him, Hotch tells Vasher that Oppenheimer regretted creating the atomic bomb in the end. However, he refuses to listen, forcing Hotch to order the military to call off the F-16s. Watching the jets fly away from the plane on his radar, Vasher releases the plane for a brief moment as Hotch and Morgan try to convince him to surrender. Then, he declares "I am become Death" and regains control, forcing Hotch to fatally shoot him in the head, while Morgan simultaneously shoots the control, destroying it and allowing the pilot to regain control of the plane.
The unsub is a mass annihilator who enjoys playing God or some other deity. He is not a terrorist in any sense (although it was later revealed that Vasher had political motivations for the crash, thus qualifying him as such), instead of being a serial killer who wants to eradicate life on a massive scale. He will not stop with Trans Alliance Flight 420, and it is highly likely that he will attack another plane. The attacks are his versions of the atomic bomb, and he is modeling them after certain nuclear weapon detonations.
Vasher crashed Trans Alliance Airlines Flight 420 and tried to crash Inter Atlantic Airlines Flight 61 by hacking into their computer systems, enabling him full control of the plane, using a complex, computerized system he designed himself. During the Trans Alliance Flight 420 crash (which was planned as a course test), Vasher intentionally crashed it near his cabin so he could personally see if his device was working. During his attempt to crash Inter Atlantic Flight 61, he had planned to crash the plane into a random public location full of innocent people, which had been stated to originally be located in Washington, D.C. He modeled all of his attacks after significant events in the history of the atomic bomb.
Vasher seems to have been inspired by Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. "The Unabomber", whom the BAU briefly compared him to. Both were math geniuses who were also socially awkward, moved away from civilization to live simple lives in remote cabins in the wilderness, and upheld anarchist views that motivated them to commit their killings, which were meant as attacks to society as a whole. Also, much like Vasher, Kaczynski had a conflict with a woman he previously dated, who called off the relationship because of his social awkwardness. The only primary differences between them were their views on technology (as briefly noted by Garcia), the weapons they used to carry out their attacks (Kaczynski used pipe bombs, while Vasher planned to use passenger jets), and the outcomes of their conflicts with their ex-girlfriends (Vasher killed his ex-girlfriend, while Kaczynski simply harassed her). Vasher's attacks on passenger jets also seem to be a callback to Kaczynski's attempted bombing of American Airlines Flight 444.
Also, the scenario of Vasher hijacking passenger jets by hacking into their computer systems seems to be somewhat similar to one of many unofficial theories behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which stated that people with access to the plane's off-board flight management system could have seized control of the plane from the pilots and took it to another location.
- With a final body count of 151 people, Vasher is the fifth of only eight unsubs in the show's history who are confirmed to have claimed the lives of hundreds. The first four (all of them serial killers) are Vincent Perotta (who killed hundreds of people, with an exact number unspecified), Frank Breitkopf (who killed at least 176 people), Billy Flynn a.k.a. "The Prince of Darkness" (who killed approximately over 200 people), and Thomas Yates a.k.a. "The Womb Raider" (who killed at least 103 people), while the next three are Sharon Mayford a.k.a. "The Bomber" (a hitwoman who killed at least 173 people), Cat Adams a.k.a. "Miss .45" (a hitwoman who killed approximately over 200 people), and Jake Logan (a serial killer who killed approximately over 379 people).
- Vasher is similar to Season Four criminal Chad Brown in the sense that both were homegrown terrorists and mass murderers and had girlfriends who rejected them. They also attacked locations related to said girlfriends (Chad attacked a park where he tried proposing to his girlfriend, while Vasher attacked the airplane his girlfriend was riding on). The only difference between them is that Vasher killed his ex-girlfriend in a targeted attack while Chad ignored his altogether.
- Vasher is also similar to Season Nine criminal Wayne Gulino. Both were homegrown terrorists who had specific targets at certain locations, but were not hesitant in killing innocent people at said locations at the time of the scheduled attacks, and also used indirect means to kill their victims (Vasher hacked into the passenger jet from a distance, while Gulino manipulated teenage hostages into committing his murders for him).
- A photo of Vasher seen on Garcia's computer shows that his Social Security number is 974-00-0110.