The Shadow Terrorists of North America

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this month described North American Eco terrorism as a growing problem. Various groups, some placid, acting as pro-environment lobby groups, do not pose any danger to others.

Legal activities to save and protect the environment are to be commended but like any other ideological philosophy the fringe does not comply with rules of law and order or work to achieve their goals through a democratic process.

Among those described by the FBI as eco terrorists are the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and their close allies Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The image of nature lovers and environmental protectors does not sit well with the stereotype of a terrorist.

Some prefer their own individual statement such as folk singer Joan Baez who lately decided to go live in a tree to protest logging. These people can create a public debate, gain friends or foes, but they are not to be compared to the menace of extreme eco terrorists.

Earlier this month four suspected environmental activists, dubbed extremists, were indicted for a 1998 arson attack at the Colorado Vail ski resort. That attack, one of the most damaging of its kind in U.S. history, caused more than 12 million dollars in damages.

All four suspects were indicted earlier in the state of Oregon where they are suspected of conspiring to conduct more fire bomb attacks in Oregon, Wyoming and California. Two of the alleged eco saboteurs are in custody while two others are still on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

The attack on the Vail complex, which consumed several buildings, ski lifts and two restaurants, was based on the ELF claim the ski resort is expanding into the habitat of an endangered cat – the North American Lynx.

According to the U.S. federal prosecutor other indictments related to attacks in Oregon were brought forward against 13 more people, some describing themselves not as ELF but as Animal Liberation Front (ALF) members.

The FBI, in an AP report, described them: “One of the nation’s leading domestic terrorist organizations.” It is to note that in addition to arson and property damage in the tens of millions, the eco terrorists endanger human life, for example by driving steel spikes into tree trunks to splinter saw blades or using explosives in attacks against laboratories or research institutes where animals are being used for scientific purposes.

Some of the attacks are aimed at the agricultural industry and at the cosmetics and textiles industries where animals are used to produce the goods. This phenomena is not only seen in the U.S. but also in Canada and other countries.

Now that summer is just around the corner, eco terrorists are preparing for their summer campaigns, which although not quite as extreme as political or religious terror, nevertheless is very dangerous and threatening.

Yoram East
Yoram East is a retired Israeli colonel born in Jerusalem, who writes about foreign policy and goings-on in the Middle East. Sadly, Yoram passed away in October 2010.