Eco-Terrorists Must Be Included In International Dragnet

October 25, 2001

By Tom DeWeese

While the remains of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the five sides of the Pentagon in Washington. D.C. are “ground zero” for the horrible destruction brought on by foreign terrorists, the nation’s forests and research labs are serving as “ground zero” for domestic environmental “eco-terrorists.” There may be diabolical links between the two forces.

For years Americans were warned of potential attacks by foreign terrorists ike Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the Islamic Jihad. We ignored those warnings, to our peril.

As Americans dozed in their indifference, bin Laden created a terror network, planting sleeper agents, infiltrating American society, conducting surveillance, and plotting attacks.

Eco-terrorists have much in common with the terrorists of the Weather Underground of the 1960’s. They advocate the violent overthrow of the old order. They communicate through dispatches placed in radical publications. They hide in safe houses and live and work in “cells” with no organized structure, no recognized leadership, manned by dedicated extremist foot soldiers focused on destroying America’s way of life. Many use aliases to hide their identities. They bomb, burn, and sabotage private property. They issue declarations of war against America. They too are preparing for massive destruction. They are American-born, and they operate right here on American soil.

Not only should Americans become aware of the eco-terrorists’ threat, we should take a hard look at possible links between the two forces. Incredibly, so far, the U.S. Government has refused to do so. In fact, Congress just refused to add to the much-touted anti-terrorism legislation, a bill by Congressman George Nethercutt (R-Wash) that would link the two threats. Congress fails to see that potential link.

In February, 2001, then FBI Director Louis Freeh identified eco-terrorist organizations like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) as one of America’s primary domestic terrorism threats. The FBI’s announcement came on the heels of a January 1st ELF communiqué proclaiming, “This year, 2001, we hope to see an escalation in tactics against capitalism and industry.”

Most eco-terrorist activity seems to revolve around one group – Earth First, founded in 1979 by Dave Foreman, now on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, he is also a co-creator of the radical environmental blue print called “The Wildlands Project.” From the beginning, the structure of Earth First was “informal” in order to avoid prosecution. It called itself a “movement” rather than an organization. There was no bureaucracy, nor lobbyist, nor paid staff, and only a cadre of volunteers. There were no membership lists, no lists of names of any kind, and no way to trace anyone to any activity.

For his model of the new group, Foreman adopted Edward Abbey’s industry-killing novel, “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” The book described acts of sabotage against evil industry. Forman would call Earth First’s attacks “eco-tage.”

Monkeywrenching became the excuse used by Earth First activists to pour sugar into the gas tanks of bulldozers to destroy the equipment of the hated timber companies. A favorite Monkeywrenching trick was to run spikes into trees. At the mills, saws hitting the spikes would explode like shrapnel. One worker lost most of his face when his blade hit an undetected spike. Over the years, Monkeywrenchers have become fond of sending mail bombs and letters with their envelopes lined with razor blades. Shades of today’s Anthrax-filled envelopes?

Today, Foreman’s vision of radical environmental action has spawned a violent network of eco-terrorists and it’s on the rise. There is the aforementioned Earth Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Army, the Environmental Rangers, to name a few. Now joining forces with the Eco-terrorists are the equally violent animal-rights terrorists. Just as Earth First is a violent offshoot of the mainstream Sierra Club, several animal- rights terrorists have direct links to the well-known People for the ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA). The most prominent of these is the Animal Liberation Front.

Space does not allow a full listing of the more than 3,000 acts of violence perpetrated by the eco-terrorists. Below are just a few samples of the damage caused by only two of these groups – the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front.

Earth Liberation Front: Responsible for a series of arson fires in 1996. They poured gasoline on the home of Pacific Lumber Company CEO John Campbell, and into his swimming pool. The pool was ignited but the fire did not spread to the house. In 1996, ELF destroyed vehicles at a ranger station in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. The next day it is suspected that they set fire to and destroyed a ranger building. The first fire fighters on the scene had to deal with hundreds of nails spread out in the road at the entrance to the facility.

ELF likes fires. In 1998 it destroyed a hotel under construction in Vail, Colorado, causing $12 million in damage. In the past year, ELF has started burning new homes under construction in Long Island, New York. Since the September 11th attacks, ELF has claimed responsibility for at least two acts of violence, including destruction of oil equipment in Utah, and the destruction of a statue outside a Ronald McDonald House where families of seriously ill children stay in Tucson, Arizona. The statue was defaced with swastikas, vulgarity and the acronyms “ELF” and “ALF” for the Animal Liberation Front with whom ELF has been more frequently teaming up for violent acts.

Throughout 2001, by admission on its own web site, ELF has attacked biotechnology labs in Idaho; set fires to buildings and research labs in Oregon, costing more than $3 million in damages; destroyed ATM machines and other property of five banks in Long Island, New York; and admits to setting at least two fires at a research lab and a tree nursery in the state of Washington. In addition, ELF has claimed violent acts in Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Wyoming, Massachusetts, as well as countless attacks internationally in Canada, England and Europe.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF): ALF can be described as nothing short of the terrorist arm of PeTA. They have attacked animal research labs, set fire to buildings and vandalized fur coat retail outlets. ALF has led attacks on McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other meat outlets. Their attacks have included everything from intimidation of customers, to vandalism, to arson.

ALF is best known for its attacks against animal research labs, releasing research animals that then die in the wild. Those raids usually result in the destruction of valuable research records which were being developed for the cure of numerous human diseases.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, ALF has been responsible for at least two acts of violence, including the torching of a McDonalds, just blocks away from the attack on the Ronald McDonald House in Tucson, Arizona. In addition, ALF is suspected of causing more that a million dollars in damage by burning down a primate laboratory in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

It is highly possible that such raids have brought ALF members into contact with laboratories that have been researching Anthrax, which comes from animals. It is possible that ALF terrorists have come into possession of Anthrax. FBI researchers should investigate this as a possible  domestic source for Anthrax attacks. The fact that research is proving that the Anthrax used in the recent U.S. attacks is domestic and not of “weapons grade” indicates the possibility of involvement by a U.S. terrorist group that could be either working either with the Islamic forces or taking the opportunity to shield its own activities. ALF could be a likely suspect if not now, then in the future. It is important to note that the British government is investigating ALF for possible ties to that country’s outbreak of hoof and mouth disease last year.

There is ample reason to suspect that eco-terrorists could have direct ties and are working in concert with foreign terrorists. First, both forces are made up of radical activists who have expressed immense hatred for American industry and its capitalist society. Both operate underground. Both are structured along the same lines, using secret cells and communication networks. Both are determined to destroy America’s way of life.

More importantly, there is precedent for such cooperation. First, it is well documented that international terrorists – from the Islamic Jihad to the Irish Republican Army to a variety of violent cells in Europe and Japan – communicate, even offering cooperation with each other. It is not unreasonable that such enemies of America would see great opportunity in working with the dedicated revolutionaries in the environmental terrorist movement that are able to travel freely inside our borders as American citizens. Consider that in the 1960’s New Left activists like Tom Hayden of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had direct  communications with communist North Vietnam. That line of communication was used many times by the communists to create violence in American streets, having direct results on American military action in Southeast Asia.

In 1999, during preparations for possible Y2K terrorist attacks, the U.S. military staged urban assault training in San Francisco. One of the military officers in charge of the training exercise explained to The DeWeese Report that the San Francisco mission was specifically designed to train troops to react to a biological terrorist attack. Moreover, he said that this particular scenario dealt with the fact that American terrorist groups, such as Earth First and ELF have been in contact with outside terrorist organizations. These U.S-based groups, he said, are helping to make plans to aid such murderous, biological attacks from within the U.S. The San Francisco exercise was designed to deal with that exact situation.

Has it happened? Perhaps. Is the FBI investigating the possibility? Probably not. Because under former Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI was under direct orders to leave such groups alone. As a result, to date, the FBI has few records on Earth First, ALF or ELF.

In response to the growing violence of eco-terrorism, Congressman George Nethercutt has introduced H.R. 2795, “The Agroterrorism Prevention Act.” The bill was introduced earlier this year, before the September 11th attacks. However, Congress made no moves to pass the legislation. Then, in October, Congressman Nethercutt made the connection between the foreign terrorist threat and the domestic environmental terrorists. He then attempted to add the bill to the war on terrorism legislation called for by President Bush. Congress refused to take that action, failing to understand the connection with environmental terrorists.

Now, Congressman Nethercutt must begin again to get his legislation enacted. Among others things, says Nethercutt, “H.R.2795 would empower the FBI to track down extremist cells of ALF and ELF and would give federal prosecutors the tools they need to properly punish and deter crimes by these organizations.”

The FBI has defined terrorism as: “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” That definition fits eco-terrorists perfectly. If we are engaged in a war on terrorism, then its time to take out all of the violent thugs who prey on innocent people and their property.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and National Grassroots Coordinator for CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) working to help local activists organize into Freedom Pods ( He is also the author of three books, including Now Tell Me I Was Wrong, ERASE, and Sustainable: the WAR on Free Enterprise, Private Property, and Individuals.