Magazine article Law & Order

Vandalism? Terrorism

Magazine article Law & Order

Vandalism? Terrorism

Article excerpt


Terrorism is one of the oldest forms of human conflict. While the means and ends have changed over time, the strategy of fear, panic, violence and disruption has not changed.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, left-wing extremist groups, especially those involving Puerto Rican separatists, posed the most serious domestic terrorist threat to the United States. In the 1990s, right-wing extremists, especially the hate groups and militia movements, posed the most serious threats.

The United States is experiencing the third major wave in domestic terrorism since the 1960s. The late-1990s saw a shift to anarchists and extremist social groups.

In late January, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an environmental extremist group, claimed responsibility for arson at a research lab under construction on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. This was not an animal research facility. The action was a protest against genetic engineering on plants.

This same group has claimed responsibility for 30 other acts of destruction over the past six years, exceeding $40 million in damages. ELF sabotaged a Colorado ski resort, causing more damage to the environment from the fire than it hoped to stop from land use. It has also sabotaged logging companies and luxury homes, fire-- bombed forest ranger stations and committed arson at retail stores.

The Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as the unlawful use of force and 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. …

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