The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines domestic terrorism as any unlawful use of force or violence by a group or individual operating within the United States or its territories intimidating or coercing a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in pursuit of political or social objectives. Most acts of terrorism in America are committed by extremist groups or movements defending and promoting their cause and ideology. They make the country their staging and target area.
The FBI, who is the lead agency in domestic counterterrorism, classifies the groups into left-wing, right-wing, and special interest extremists. Historically, extremist movements are movements of disaffection. Occurring in periods of incipient change, they are addressed to groups who feel that they have just been, or are about to be, deprived of something important, or to groups whose rising aspirations lead them to feel that they have always been deprived of something important they now want. Such deprivation is accompanied by political dislocation.
In the past, the left-wing groups were considered the most dangerous extremists. However, due to the arrests of its key members and the fall of communism in the former Soviet Union many groups were neutralized in the 1980s and became inactive according to the FBI. These groups believe in revolutionary socialist doctrine and consider themselves as protector of the people. On the other hand, right-wing extremists include the militia movement who are anti-government.
They stockpile weapons and conduct paramilitary training in preparation for armed action with the government. The militia believes that the U. S. government is illegal and part of a conspiracy to create a new world to be headed by the United Nations. On the other side, there are those who accept racist ideology or white supremacy claiming that the white race is nature’s highest creation and the makers of civilization. Most of their illegal actions are driven by hatred towards non-white, the very reason why hate crimes increase dramatically through the years.
However, the FBI noted that the trend in domestic terrorism seems to concentrate on special interest extremists who continually grab headlines by burning down buildings, bombing facilities, harassing people, sabotaging businesses, and carrying out acts of vandalism. Special interest extremists conduct acts of politically motivated violence to force segments of society, including the general public, to change attitudes about issues considered important to their causes. These groups occupy the extreme fringes of animal rights, pro-life, environmental, antinuclear, and other movements. (FBI, 1999, p.
20). Among the groups identified that could inflict terrorist threats are the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). These extremists engage in a new wave of terror attacks called eco-terrorism. The two organizations forged alliance in 1997 and have claimed more than 1,200 criminal acts causing over $100 million in property damages for the past 15 years. Members employ illegal direct actions by using arson in confronting companies and practices they see as abusive and immoral. With such tactic they hope to impose economic loss or cripple business operations.
In his testimony before the U. S. Senate in 2001 on the Threat of Terrorism in the United States, FBI Director Luis J. Freeh described the two organizations as one of the most active extremist elements in the country. In 2004, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism John Lewis re-echoed the same testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee reiterating the need for a top priority investigation on the groups. In 2005, Lewis again testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works where he gave an oversight on eco-terrorism specifically examining the illegal activities of ALF and ELF.
He cited that the groups have increased their attacks both in frequency and size using improvised explosive devices, threatening employees, and harassing individuals through telephones. He admitted difficulty in preventing the crimes due to the autonomous nature of the operation, which is a faceless entity. Lewis added that the terrorist groups are well-informed about the law and the limitations of law enforcement. More often the ALF/ELF members conduct surveillance (photographic/video) of their potential targets and gather intelligence by reviewing industry profile and trade publications.
Thirty-five FBI offices are currently investigating more than 150 criminal cases related to the eco-terrorist groups. In 2005, the U. S. Department of Homeland Security branded the ALF and ELF as terrorist groups. The Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front are the most prominent terrorist elements, or “fronts,” within the radical environmental movement. These groups are dedicated to preventing what they view as the destruction and exploitation of the earth and its species, both human and non-human. (Jackson, 2005, p. 76). Animal Liberation Front.
ALF is an international organization that seeks the total elimination of animal abuse and suffering at the hands of human with no real leadership and membership. The group liberates animals from places of abuse, inflicts economic damage to those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals, and reveals the horror and atrocities committed against animals. (ALF, 1991, ¶7). Perhaps one of the most influential forces behind ALF’s cause can be found in the book Animal Liberation written by Australian Philosopher Peter Singer in 1975 where he stated that animals deserve the same rights as humans.
The author however, did not advocate the use of violence. The Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture called ALF in 1993 the most significant radical animal rights group causing vandalism, break-ins, arson, and theft. They continue to raid research facilities of universities freeing animals like cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and primates. The group accused the government of not implementing laws that protect animals despite the existence of animal welfare legislation like the Animal Welfare Act, Agricultural Research Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
They say these laws failed to achieve its purpose. ALF has its origin in England during the late 1960s with the Hunt Saboteurs Association, an animal activist group trying to end fox hunting. The group was renamed to Band of Mercy in 1972. Founding members Ronnie Lee and Cliff Goodman were arrested and sentenced to three and a half years in prison for firebombing a vivisection center to stop animals from being experimented. Upon his released, Lee renamed the group to ALF. The group emerged in the United States in 1982 when they rescued 24 cats from experimental laboratories at Howard University.
For years of liberating animals from their captivity, the group’s tactic shifted from rescuing to property destruction. Members of the ALF seize and/or destroy equipment, property, and materials used to exploit animals, and they use arson as a potent weapon to raze buildings and laboratories to the ground. They have cost the animal exploitation industries hundreds of millions of dollars. They willfully break the law because the law wrongly consigns animals to cages and confinement, to loneliness and pain, to torture and death.
They target a wide range of animal exploiters, from vivisectors and the fur industry to factory farmers, foie gras producers, and fast food restaurants. (Best & Nocella, 2005, p. 4). In 1987, ALF burned an animal diagnostic lab at the University of California including 20 vehicles causing $5. 1 million in damages. In 1989, the group raided the University of Arizona, Tucson freeing 1,200 animals and in 1992, they set fire on a mink research facility at the Michigan State University causing damages between $20,000 and $100,000.
In 1996, they burned the Alaskan Fur Company in Minnesota inflicting $2 million damages in merchandise and $250,000 in property. In 1997, they freed 10,000 mink from the Arritola Mink Farm in Oregon. The rescue was said to be the largest liberation of animals in the country. In 1999, the FBI recorded six incidents of terrorism attributed to ALF from malicious destruction to theft to incendiary bombing. In 2003, the group attacked a McDonald branch with burning debris in Chico, California for the second time. They condemned the fast food chain because of its use of animal products.
The animal liberationists are waging war against the oldest and last form of slavery to be formally abolished – the exploitation of nonhuman animals…animal liberation is in fact the anti-slavery of the present age and its moral and economic ramifications are as world-shaking, possibly more so, than the abolition of the human slavery movement. (Best & Kahn, 2004, p. 11, ¶4). Earth Liberation Front. Like ALF, the ELF is composed of anonymous underground cells with no formal hierarchy and follow a leaderless resistance model of activism.
The group also use similar modus operandi of its counterpart such as arson and vandalism in implementing their plans. In arson, the militants would use crude incendiary devices like candles that are attached to a plastic jugs filled with gasoline. They use booby trapped letters with poisoned razor blades and issue death threats to exploiters. ELF is an international underground organization, which is an off-shoot of a movement in England called Earth First! The group surfaced in North America in the mid 1990s.
Members of ELF likewise conduct economic sabotage and destroy properties of industries whose activities they perceive as harmful to the natural environment. They believe that the exploitation of forests may lead to the extinction of wildlife habitat. In 1997, ELF burned down the Bureau of Land Management horse corral in Oregon and on the following year set fire on a ski resort in Vail, Colorado that resulted in $12 million in damages. The group set seven separate fires destroying three buildings and damaging four chairlifts. The FBI considered this event as the most destructive act of eco-terrorism in U.
S. history. In 1999, ELF radicals were involved in the burning of an 8,000 square-foot structure of the Boise Cascade logging company in Monmouth, Oregon and the destruction of the Agricultural Hall of the Michigan State University. In September 8, 2001, the group burned a McDonald outlet in Tucson causing $500,000 in damages. In 2003, this extremist set fire on a housing complex that was under construction in San Diego knocking down a five-storey building and a 100-foot crane. The damage was estimated at $50 million. Six weeks later, they burned three other houses that were being built within the area.
In addition, the ELF assaulted three car dealers in Southern California setting ablaze 40 Hummers and SUVs amounting to $2 million in damages. The group vandalized the cars by painting the words “Fat Lazy Americans”. They did the same in Los Angeles where 125 sport utility vehicles were also vandalized and burned inside auto dealer shops and along the neighborhood. According to FBI investigations the ELF were responsible for attacking vehicle dealerships and construction sites while the ALF were attributed to setting fires and bombings of animal research laboratories, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry.
In 2005, ELF set fire on a neighborhood in Hagerstown, Maryland damaging over $300,000 in properties. One townhouse was destroyed while three others were seriously damaged. Most Wanted. FBI officials have named the ALF and the ELF as among the most dangerous domestic terrorist groups in the country and, because these eco-terrorists are launching their attacks in more populated areas, fear that the groups’ criminal actions may one day kill someone. (CDJ, 2004, p. 21, ¶4).
Despite a series of deadly violent actions launched by the groups for many years, no human casualties have been reported so far. During an interview with 60 Minutes in November 13, 2005, ALF spokesperson Jerry Vlasak said "if they won't stop when you ask them nicely and demonstrate to them that what they're doing is wrong, then they should be stopped using whatever means necessary". In a Senate hearing, Vlasak stated that it is morally justified to kill medical researchers in order to save lab animals.
Another hardcore ALF activist Tim Daley went further to say that "in a war you have to take up arms and people will get killed, and I can support that kind of action by petrol bombing and bombs under cars, and probably at a later stage, the shooting of vivisectors on their doorsteps. It's a war and there's no other way you can stop vivisectors. " A vivisector is a person who operates on living animals for the purpose of scientific research.
In its Illegal Incidents Report: A 25 Year History of Illegal Activities by Eco and Animal Extremists, the Foundation for Medical Research in Washington, D. C. noted that the groups were responsible for 529 attacks against research facilities, universities, drug discovery companies, and various organizations from 1981 to 2005. The assaults were made up of vandalism (45%), theft (23%), harassment (15%), arson (10%), and bombing (7%). According to U. S. law enforcement, radical environmentalism currently poses the most visible homegrown threat to the national security of the United States.
As recently as June 2004, the FBI designated “eco-terrorism”—the use of or threat to use violence in protest of harm inflicted on animals and the world’s biosphere—as the country’s number one militant challenge emanating from inside its own borders. (Chalk, Hoffman, Reville, & Kasupski, 2005, p. 47). Propaganda. Both groups maintain their own websites using the internet to propagate their cause, document their activities, recruit supporters, produce online publications, and communicate with other underground cells to plan their next move.
The 18-page ALF Primer, which is downloadable in the ALF homepage, offers activists instructions and advices on how to damage vehicles, conduct surveillance, glue locks, destroy windows, burn structures, cut telephone lines and security cameras, make improvised bombs, and spray paint using slogans such as Meat is Murder or Fur Shame or Stop Killing Animals. Its ARSON-Around with Auntie ALF is a manual that provides detailed instructions complete with diagrams on how to prepare different kinds of incendiary devices and home-made napalm.
In the Final Nail: Destroying the Fur Industry – A Guided Tour, ALF listed the names and addresses of farmers engaging in the fur business so that activists may know where to plan their raids. The publication opens with a statement, "The Earth is not dying - it is being killed. And the people killing it have names and addresses. " It has three chapters on how to make incendiary devices and commit arson plus chapters entitled with “Maximum Destruction NOT Minimum Damage and Smashing the Furriers.
” Environmental radicals used the material for delivering death threats and letters with booby trapped razor blades to the farmers. Unfortunately, most of these letters are often picked up by children. Many farmers listed in the publication have experienced retaliation from the terrorist groups. The ELF, on the other hand, came out with a handbook in 2001 entitled Setting Fires with Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide. The 37-page manual details how to assemble an Old-Fashioned Kitchen Timer and a SCR Digital Timer complete with instructions, tips, diagrams, materials and tools needed.
It advises activists on the rules of a successful arson, where to place incendiary devices, and fuel requirements to burn down a building. Conclusion. These terrorist groups are anti-progress and as long as development continues they will not stop their modus operandi in terrorizing the public and businesses, which already have incurred heavy losses. The scenario is extremely dangerous and alarming. It is imperative that authorities and intelligence organizations have to assess the threat and study the behavior of these terrorists who are becoming more advanced and knowledgeable in their strategies.
There is a need for effective counterstrategies to detect and prevent acts of terror at the same time proper allocation of resources in order to efficiently combat these adversaries. References Lipset, S. M. and Raab, E. (1970). The Politics of Unreason: Right-Wing Extremism in America, 1790 – 1970. Harper & Row, New York. ASIN: B000JFRFE0 FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). (1999). Terrorism in the United States 1999. Counterterrorism. 30 Years of Terrorism: A Special Retrospective Edition. Threat Assessment and Warning Unit Counterterrorism Division.
ALF (1991). The Animal Liberation Front Primer. The Animal Liberation Frontline Information Service. Retrieved December 8, 2006, from http://animalliberationfront. com/ALFront/ALFPrime. htm Jackson, B. A. (2005). Aptitude for Destruction. Volume 1: Organizational Learning in Terrorist Groups and Its Implications for Combating Terrorism. RAND monograph series. Prepared for the National Institute of Justice. RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. ISBN: 0833037641 Best, S. and Kahn, R. (2004). Trial by Fire: The SHAC, Globalization, and the Future of Democracy.
Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Manual, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1 – 36. Best, S. Ph. D. and Nocella II, A. J. (2005). Behind the Mask: Uncovering the Animal Liberation Front. Retrieved December 8, 2006, from http://www. animalliberationfront. com/ALFront/Behind_The_Mask. pdf (CDJ) California Department of Justice. (2004). Organized Crime in California: Annual Report to the California Legislature 2004. Office of the Attorney General/Division of Law Enforcement/ Criminal Intelligence Bureau. Chalk, P. (2006).
Trends in Terrorism: Threats to the United States and the Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. RAND monograph series. RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy. RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. ISBN: 0833038222 Further Readings: U. S. Senate. (2005). Statement of John Lewis, Deputy Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Oversight on Eco-terrorism specifically examining ELF and ALF. Committee Hearings on Environment & Public Works. http://epw. senate. gov/hearing_statements. cfm? id=237817 FBI. (2002).
Testimony of James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI Before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. http://www. fbi. gov/congress/congress02/jarboe021202. htm MIPT (National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism). (2006). Earth Liberation Front – Group Profile. Terrorism Knowledge Base. http://www. tkb. org/Group. jsp? groupID=41 Newkirk, I. (2000). Free the Animals : The Story of the Animal Liberation Front. Lantern Books; 2Rev Ed edition. ISBN: 1930051220