Eco-Terrorism, a New Breed of Terrorism?

Terrorism has become a multi headed dragon like the mythical beast, Scylla from Homer’s Odyssey, the six headed creature could seize men and eat them alive. Some terrorist groups we may have heard of and some we may not have, like a group called E.L.F. (Earth Liberation Front,) or A.L.F. (Animal Liberation Front). The most well-known of these terrorist groups undoubtedly is the Islamic group, Al Qaeda.

According to, Al Qaeda formed around 1989 by none other than, Osama Bin Laden and co-defendant Muhammad Atef . “Al Qaeda,” is an international terrorist group dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence. One of the principal goals of Al Qaeda was to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula) and Somalia by violence.

Al Qaeda had a command and control structure which included a Majlis al Shura (or consultation council) which discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations. Both Atef and Bin Laden sat on this council. Al Qaeda had ties to other terrorist organizations that operated under its umbrella, including: the Al Jihad group based in Egypt, the Islamic Group, formerly led by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and other jihad groups in other countries.

Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

Discussion of Al Qaeda still sends shivers up the spines of most New Yorkers, but when we hear talk of groups like E.L.F. or A.L.F. we are more likely to think of Will Ferrell in the hit movie titled Elf, or the hairy alien named Alf from the hit science fiction sitcom that aired on NBC from 1986 to 1990, and not the violent acts of a terrorist group. Don’t let the cartoonish quality of the names fool you though; these groups are just as capable of creating violence and mayhem as their more prominent Islamic cousins.

According to, “John Hanna founded the original ELF (Environmental Life Force) in 1977 before Earth First! And the Earth Liberation Front was established. He is recognized as the founding father of the ELF concept, a philosophy that has been adopted by the Earth Liberation Front and continues to this day. This was the first eco-guerrilla unit to use direct action and the name ELF. As originally conceived, the ELF would have no central leadership or chain of command. Each cell was intended to be autonomous and an individual could join or drop out at will. Anyone could call him or herself a member of ELF but no one can be an ELF leader.”

“Today’s ELF, Earth Liberation Front, came into being around 1992 and rejoined the battle to protect Earth by using the same tactics employed by the original ELF fifteen years earlier. There is speculation that today’s “new” version of ELF was reinvented by former members of ‘Earth First!’ in the UK.

This may well be true since it is an historical and irrefutable fact that Earth First! Founder, Dave Foreman and original ELF founder, John Hanna were communicating as early as 1985 (this is shown in a letter posted on the Original ELF archives page). By 2009, actions allegedly perpetrated by members of the “new” ELF had resulted in numerous arrests with predictable consequences.”

E.L.F. sister group, The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is an international, underground leaderless resistance that engages in illegal direct action in pursuit of animal liberation. The group is active in more than 40 countries, ALF cells operate independently, and consists of small groups of friends or sometimes it can be just one person, this makes the movement difficult for the authorities to observe. states,” In August 1974, Ronnie Lee and Cliff Goodman were arrested for taking part in a raid on Oxford Laboratory Animal Colonies in Bicester, earning them the moniker the “Bicester Two.” Daily demonstrations took place outside the court during their trial; Lee’s local Labour MP, Ivor Clemitson, was one of their supporters. They were sentenced to three years in prison, during which Lee went on the movement’s first hunger strike to obtain vegan food and clothing.

They were paroled after 12 months, Lee emerging in the spring of 1976 more militant than ever. He gathered together the remaining Band of Mercy activists and two dozen new recruits, 30 in all. Animal rights writer Noel Molland wrote that the Band of Mercy name sounded wrong as a description of what Lee saw as a revolutionary movement. Lee wanted a name that would haunt those who used animals, according to Molland. Thus, the Animal Liberation Front was born.”

According to an article on, for years, the nation has turned its terror focus on Al Qaeda and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But no one seems to know there is a domestic terror threat that federal officials still consider priority No. 1 – eco-terrorism.

“The torching of luxury homes in the swank Seattle suburb of Woodinville served as a reminder that the decades-long war with militant environmentalists on American soil has not ended.

“It remains what we would probably consider the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat, because they have successfully continued to conduct different types of attacks in and around the country,” said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.”

“The FBI defines eco-terrorism ‘as the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.'”

“For years, officials have battled against members of shadowy groups such as the Earth Liberation Front and its brother-in-arms, the Animal Liberation Front. Law enforcement has made strides prosecuting cells, but it’s been unable to end the arsons that have plagued developments”