Magazine article Insight on the News

Extremist Groups Target Businesses and People

Magazine article Insight on the News

Extremist Groups Target Businesses and People

Article excerpt

Virulent environmental and animal-rights activists have inflicted tens of millions of dollars in property damage, operating in small cells anonymous not only to the public but to one another.

As fire bombings and arson attacks increase in frequency and seriousness, ecoterrorists have become a high priority for federal, state and local law enforcement. One group in particular, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), is among the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the country, according to the FBI.

ELF's immediate goal is to cause economic damage, such as its Oct. 19, 1998, arson attack on a Vail ski resort in Colorado that resulted in $12 million in property damage. ELF mounted the attack in retaliation for the resort's plans to expand its ski areas, which ELF claims would have endangered a lynx habitat.

More recently, the group has claimed responsibility for setting fire to four luxury homes in a development on Long Island, N.Y., arguing that the construction endangered an aquifer for drinking water. ELF also drove hundreds of steel spikes into trees marked for cutting by the Rock Hill lumber company in eastern Virginia. The company estimates it will cost $30,000 to $40,000 for safety precautions when it runs the timber through the sawmill.

"Our Earth is being murdered by greedy corporate and personal interests," says ELF spokesman Craig Rosebraugh of Portland, Ore. "The rape of the Earth puts everyone's life at risk due to global warming, ozone depletion and toxic chemicals. We are but the symptoms of a corrupt society on the brink of ecological collapse."

In April, agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Oregon State Police raided the home and business of Rosebraugh and two of his associates. He was served with a subpoena (his seventh since 1997) to testify before a federal grand jury for an investigation into an arson attack at a car dealership in Eugene, Ore., that destroyed more than 30 sport-utility vehicles.

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF), too, has become increasingly active in recent months in its campaign on behalf of animal rights. Activists have claimed responsibility for the theft of 14 beagles from the laboratory of Huntingdon Life Sciences in East Millstone, N.J., and 450 chickens from Sunny-Cal Eggs in Beaumont, Calif.

Extremist groups have targeted individuals as well as property and businesses. …

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