The Terrorist Tactics of Radical Environmentalists. (Fair Comment)

By Higgins, Sean | Insight on the News, April 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Terrorist Tactics of Radical Environmentalists. (Fair Comment)


Higgins, Sean, Insight on the News


The United States is based upon "murder, exploitation and ... genocide." It supports "exploitation" and "slaughter." It engages in "oppression in its sickest forms." It is "the most extreme terrorist organization in planetary history."

It is, in short, an imperialistic "disease." Those are the words not of some foreign terrorist group, but of 29-year-old Craig Rosebraugh in congressional testimony Feb. 12. Rosebraugh is the former spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmentalist group. According to the FBI, the ELF engages in terrorism (see "FBI Targets Domestic Terrorists," p. 30).

Since the nation's attention became focused on international terrorism, the domestic variety largely has been forgotten. But it has not vanished. Today, its most virulent form is known as ecoterrorism. Ecoterrorism is a real and increasingly dangerous phenomenon. It is practiced by radical environmentalists and animal-rights activists who reject lawful protest in favor of vandalism and arson. According to federal law enforcement, the two main ecoterrorist groups are the ELF and a closely allied group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The two groups target facilities they believe exploit nature or animals. Some in that movement have found a sympathetic ear and even financial support from at least one mainstream group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The PETA Website compares the ALF to the French Resistance and the Underground Railroad. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says the groups have a moral right to their actions. PETA, she says, is happy to contribute to their legal defense. She compared it to helping an orphanage run by al-Qaeda.

"If you bought bricks for an orphanage that doesn't mean you are doing anything that's terroristic. It means, actually, that you are supporting the positive side of something, the same way I support Burger King selling a veggie burger," Newkirk explains. "They are trying to wake up a sleeping public, in their own way."

Together, the ALF and the ELF have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of $43 million, according to James Jarboe, FBI Domestic Terrorism Section chief. "They say they've never hurt an individual. So far -- knock on wood -- they haven't. But that may not last," Jarboe said at a conference in March.

The ELF's most spectacular attack occurred at a ski resort in Vail, Colo., in 1998. Arson destroyed $12 million worth of property. Why did ELF members do it? Because the resort supposedly destroyed lynx habitat. In fact, no lynx had been spotted in the area for 15 years.

In November 1997, the ALF and the ELF jointly claimed credit for burning down a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Oregon. In June 1998, they jointly claimed credit for torching a U.S. Department of Agriculture building in Washington state. The ELF took sole credit for the December 1998 burning of a U. …

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