Eco-Terrorists in America
Topic: There are radical Muslim-inspired terrorists, right-wing terrorists and militias, and eco-terrorists groups located in the United States. Which type of group poses the greatest danger to our country and why?
Reference books- Homeland Security & Terrorism by Gaines, Kremling, & Kappeler, (New York: Pearson, 2019) and The Holy Bible.
Eco-Terrorists in America
The internal law enforcement agencies in the United States divide terrorist threats that face the country into two categories, international and domestic. International terrorism incorporates violent acts that pose a danger to human life. The acts normally violets the United States and other states’ criminal laws. International terrorism acts are based on intimidation or coercing the civilian population, influencing government policies, or affecting how the government operates. On the other side, domestic terrorism involves the unlawful use of violence by groups or individuals within the United States or its territories. The domestic terrorism does not consist of any foreign direction and is normally committed against the United States civilians and property in the effort of intimidating or coercing the government, civilians, or social segment in furtherance of social or political objectives (Watson, 2002). In the past two decades, the United States has experienced dramatic changes in the nature of the threats of terrorism. Since 9/11, the domestic terrorism has grown to outnumber the international terrorist threats that face the U.S. The response that the country invested in curbing the international terrorist through law enforcement and the military response has weakened the organizational structure of most international threats such as Al-Qaeda. However, the U.S. had forgotten the development of domestic-based terrorism such as radical Muslim-inspired terrorists, right-wing terrorists and militias, and eco-terrorists groups.
This paper considers the eco-terrorist groups located in the United States as the type of terrorist group that poses the greatest danger to the United States. Eco-terrorism differs from other terrorist groups in the United States in that they are based on solving specific issues that they consider important country and they tend to act in the best interest of the United States’ future rather than seeking widespread political change in the country. The eco-terrorism continues to pose the greatest threat to the United States today as they have changed their tactics and are now engaging in politically motivated violence to coerce society segments, the general public, and local governments to change their attitudes regarding issues the extremists consider important (Jarboe, 2002). The eco-terrorists groups have occupied the extreme fringes of pro-life, animal-life, anti-nuclear, environment, and various movements that tend to champion issues within the United States society. The groups have resolved to use of vandalism and terrorist activities in the efforts to further their causes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines eco-terrorism as the application of threatened violence of criminal nature against innocent civilians or property based on the environmental-oriented reasons, environmental-political reasons, or symbolic nature. The groups in the past two decades have been accounted for and claimed responsibility for hundreds of criminal and terrorism acts such as arson, vandalism, bombings, and harassment, which are estimated to cause damages of more than &100 million. To highlight reasons that make the eco-terrorism to pose the greatest danger to the United States, the paper analyzes some examples of the eco-terrorism groups, including their origin, and activities.
Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
ALF is considered the United States’ most influential and greatest eco-terrorist threat due to its active extreme animal rights movement. The ALF is composed of underground cells that are mostly anonymous that engage in activities that oppose the use of animals for experiments and the perceived mistreatment of animals. The group aims to rescue animals from abuse and to inflict economic damages to individuals or groups that pose to profit from animal mistreatment and exploitation. The origin of ALF is traced back to the 1960s English activist group known as the Hunt Saboteurs Association (Anti-Defamation League, 2020). The group was associated with different efforts in the attempt of eliminating, blocking, and protesting against hunters across England. The social movements in the United States, together with a number of books that addressed the welfare of animals, inspired the rise of ALF in the U.S.
The first domestic act of the ALF that caught the nation’s eye was conducted in 1979 when the group broke into the New York University Medical School vandalizing properties and realizing five animals. Various activities followed up to 1993 recording more than 313 break-ins incidents, with vandalism, theft, and committing arson. During the period, ALF conducted an arson attack at the veterinary laboratory of California-Davis University in 1987, causing $3.5 million damages. The group also conducted a firebombing in 1992 at Michigan State University animal research laboratory (Anti-Defamation League, 2020). Another major attack that was conducted by the AFL was in 2004 when the group raided the Iowa University laboratory causing damages of $450,000 and destroying years of research that could have made a huge difference (Committee on Environment and Public Works, 2005). The evolution of the group was witnessed by the new tactic that involved publishing names and home addresses of associated professors and workers on their web site, making them targets for further terror. According to homeland security, the AFL use of arson tactics makes them the number one terror concerns (Gaines, Kremling, & Kapper, 2019). The operation of the group, which does not include official membership but only widespread activists and supporters have made it hard for the authorities to track them. The group continues to grow as it so is their attacks, which has created concern in the United States.
The Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
EFL is another eco-terrorist group, which operates under autonomous groups of individuals that even anonymous both to the public to one another. The group tactic is based on inflicting damages to properties that are used by groups are individuals to profit from natural environment destruction or exploitation. It also aims to reveal and educate the public about the atrocities committed against the environment and all species within it. The Earth Liberation Front evolved out of Earth First that was founded in the 1980s by Dave Foreman and activists that were influenced by militant organizations. Although the Earth First was based on a non-political or spiritual agenda that only targeted protection of environments such as tree-sitting and tree-spiking, the EFL resolved to more direct violent actions against organizations and individuals that they considered destroying or exploiting environmental resources.
Just like the ALF, the EFL uses the arson tactics to attack its target. For instance, in the first attack that the grouped claimed responsibility in 1997, it had burned down the Bureau of Land Management horse corral in Oregon. The national highlight of the group was made in 1998 when it attacked a ski resort in Vail, resulting in damages of $12 million through arson that saw the fires set destroying three buildings and damaging four chairlifts (Anti-Defamation League, 2020). The group claimed that the corporation was trespassing into wild and “unroaded” areas, and its acts were only to put profits ahead of Colorado wildlife. One of the most damaging attacks in EFL history was conducted in 2003 when the grouped housing complex of Garden Communities company that was developing a five-story, a 306-unit condominium complex in an urban area of San Diego. The group burned down the five-story building and 100-foot-high crane, resulting in over $50 million estimated damages and forcing over 400 people to evacuate from their homes. At the crime scene, the EFL had left a burner reading, “If you build it, we will burn it” (Committee on Environment and Public Works, 2005). The group continues to target home under construction, especially against “urban sprawl,” with most cases being reported in New York, California, and Michigan. The grouped also targets car dealerships and sport utility vehicles.
The tactics and anonymous identity of the eco-terrorist groups have continued to prove it impossible for the authorities to develop mechanisms that can be used to curb the group’s activities. Both the ALF and EFL among other groups that have recently emerged, such as Animal Liberating Brigade (ALB) and Stop hunting Animal Cruelty (SHAC), continue to use the internet influence to conduct attacks in various parts of the country. The damages that the eco-terrorist have caused in the U.S., including loss of lives in the past two decades, surpasses the damages caused by other types of domestic and international terrorists, which makes it the greatest danger to the United States.
Anti-Defamation League. (2020). Ecoterrorism: Extremism in the Animal Rights and Environmentalist Movements. Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/education/resources/reports/ecoterrorism
Committee on Environment and Public Works. (2005). Eco-terrorism Specifically Examining the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-109shrg32209/html/CHRG-109shrg32209.htm
Gaines, L., Kremling, J., & Kapper, V. (2019). Homeland Security & Terrorism. New York: Pearson
Jarboe, J. (2002). Testimonies. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/the-threat-of-eco-terrorism
Watson, D. (2002). Testimonies. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/the-terrorist-threat-confronting-the-united-states