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The terrorists you don't hear about

By Tom DeWeese
web posted March 4, 2002

While the public's attention is focused on the prospect of more terrorist acts by Islamic fundamentalists, the terrorists who have posed the greatest threat to property, to scientific inquiry, and to medical research in America are still at large. And they are bragging about their accomplishments!

They are the members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF). James Jarboe, the chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterterrorism Division for domestic terrorism, testified recently for a congressional subcommittee that at least 26 FBI field offices have pending investigations underway regarding these two groups. In addition, 44 Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the nation have taken up the challenge of eco-terrorism.

If you have not heard anything about this on network evening news programs or read much about it in your local daily newspaper, you are not alone. Why has most of the mainstream media virtually ignored the ALF and ELF, shadowy organizations that have carried out 600 attacks since 1996 and are emerging in the eyes of law enforcement officials as the largest and most active US-based terrorist groups?

While many, including myself, have legitimate concerns about the recently passed "Patriot Act" granting vast powers to law enforcement authorities to root out the menace of Islamic terrorism, those powers may also finally yield some results with regard to both ELF and ALF. Since 1996, the cost of their criminality is estimated at $43 million.

In January, ALF had the audacity to release its own report regarding its previous year of arsons, tree spikings, laboratory attacks and other illegal acts committed in the name of saving animals and the environment.

Prior to 9.11, their report cited 137 acts, among which was an arson causing $5.3 million in damage to the University of Washington in May, by far the most destructive act in 2001, excluding the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. ALF also took credit for an April $1.5 million arson in Washington State directed against an egg farm. The result of the UW attack was to destroy research involving trees, rare plants, wetlands and urban landscapes.

The roster of crimes committed by ALF and ELF included the smashing of windows at a Wendy's restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD, and a $700,000 arson at a cotton gin in Visalia, CA. In June, these groups smashed windows at a Bed, Bath & Beyond store in Salt Lake City, but it was New York and Texas that accounted for nearly half of all the animal rights actions with 17 incidents each. Fifteen other States and the District of Columbia also were subject to their domestic terrorism.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) scheduled February 12th as a "National Day of Actions Against State Repression" to protest a congressional hearing held in Washington, DC. At that hearing, ALF/ELF spokesman, Craig Rosebraugh, evoked the Fifth Amendment fifty times in response to questions asked by subcommittee members.

Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO), chairman of the hearing, called ALF/ELF members "hardened criminals." He described them, saying "They are dangerous, they are well-funded, they are savvy, sophisticated and stealthy, and if their violence continues to escalate, it is only a matter of time before their parade of terror results in a lost human life."

Only now has one industry affected by these terrorist acts begun a public campaign to focus attention on the dangers posed by ALF and ELF. In January, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a coalition of restaurant and tavern operators announced they would underwrite an advertising campaign against what they called "notorious and extreme groups" that want to restrict people's food and beverage choices. They are taking aim at PeTA, Greenpeace, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

A 1992 congressional report by the US Office of Technology Assessment, entitled "The Terrorist Threat," quoted the FBI as saying, "PeTA leaders are reported to have acted as intermediaries to the press for the ALF, including distributing a videotape of an ALF break-in." One can only hope that elements of the Patriot Act will now be used to undertake a thorough investigation of PeTA and other such groups.

ALF, ELF and seemingly mainstream advocacy groups have been given free reign to undertake acts of terrorism or to seek public acceptance for such acts. That day must now end. They must been given the same priority as al-Qaida and other Muslim terrorists. Their objectives may differ, but their crimes do not.

Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report, a monthly newsletter on issues affecting the welfare of the nation. He is also president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org.

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