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The eco-terrorist anthrax connection

By Tom DeWeese
web posted October 29, 2001

While the remains of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and Washington, DC's Pentagon are "ground zero" for the horrible destruction wrought by foreign terrorists, the nation's forests, research labs, resorts and housing developments have long been "ground zero" for domestic environmentally-driven "eco-terrorists." There may be diabolical links between the two forces.

There is a strong possibility that Animal Liberation Front (ALF) terrorists have come into possession of Anthrax as the result of having invaded laboratories that have been researching the disease. This certainly merits investigation as a source for the Anthrax attacks. The fact that the Anthrax used in the recent U.S. attacks is domestic and not of "weapons grade" indicates the possibility of involvement by a U.S. terrorist group. Using the September 11th attacks as cover, ALF could be using them to shield its own activities. The British government is investigating ALF for possible ties to that country's outbreak of mad cow disease last year.

There is ample reason to suspect that eco-terrorists could have direct ties and are working in concert with foreign terrorists. First, both forces are made up of radical activists who have expressed immense hatred for American industry and its capitalist society. Both operate underground. Both are structured along the same lines, using secret cells, and communication networks. Both are determined to destroy America's way of life.

More importantly, there is precedent for such cooperation. It is well documented that international terrorists from the Islamic Jihad to the Irish Republican Army, to a variety of violent cells in Europe and Japan have been in communication with each other, even offering cooperation.

It is not unreasonable that enemies of America would see an opportunity in working with dedicated revolutionaries in the environmental terrorist movement that are able to travel freely inside our borders as American citizens.

In 1999, during preparations for possible Y2K terrorist attacks, the U.S. military staged urban assault training in San Francisco. One of the military officers in charge of the training exercise explained to The DeWeese Report that the San Francisco mission was specifically designed to train troops to react to a biological terrorist attack.

Moreover, he said that this particular scenario dealt with the fact that American terrorist groups, such as Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), were known to have been in contact with outside terrorist organizations. These U.S based groups, he said, were helping to make plans to aid such murderous, biological attacks from within the U.S.

Is the FBI investigating the possibility? Probably not. Under former Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI was under direct orders to leave such groups alone. As a result, to date, the FBI has few records on Earth First!, ALF or ELF.

In response to the growing violence of eco-terrorism, Congressman George Nethercutt has introduced H.R. 2795, "The Agroterrorism Prevention Act." The bill was introduced before the September 11th attacks. However, Congress made no moves to pass the legislation. In October, Congressman Nethercutt made the connection between the foreign terrorist threat and the domestic environmental terrorists and attempted to add the bill to anti-terrorism legislation called for by President Bush. Congress refused to take that action, failing to understand the connection with environmental terrorists.

Now, Congressman Nethercutt must begin again to get his legislation enacted. Among others things, says Nethercutt, "H.R.2795 would empower the FBI to track down extremist cells of ALF and ELF and would give federal prosecutors the tools they need to properly punish and deter crimes by these organizations."

The FBI has defined terrorism as: "The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." That definition fits eco-terrorists perfectly. If we are engaged in a war on terrorism, then its time to take out all of the violent thugs who prey on innocent people and their property.

Eco-terrorists have been around a long time and they too have largely been ignored. They advocate the violent overthrow of the old order. They communicate through dispatches in radical publications. They hide in safe houses and live and work in "cells" with no organized structure, no recognized leadership, manned by dedicated extremist foot soldiers focused on destroying America's way of life. Many use aliases to hide their identities.

They bomb, burn, and sabotage private property. They issue declarations of war against America. They too are preparing for massive destruction. They are American-born, and they operate right here on American soil.

Not only should Americans be more aware of the eco-terrorists' threat, we should take a hard look at the comparable objectives they share with external terrorists such as bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Incredibly, so far, the U.S. government has refused to do so.

In February 2001, then-FBI Director Louis Freeh identified eco-terrorist organizations such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) as one of America's foremost domestic terrorism threats. The FBI's announcement came on the heels of a January 1st ELF communiqué proclaiming, "This year, 2001, we hope to see an escalation in tactics against capitalism and industry."

Most eco-terrorist activity seems to revolve around one group, Earth First! It was founded in 1979 by Dave Foreman who now serves on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. He is also a co-creator of the radical environmental blue print called "The Wildlands Project." From the beginning, the structure of Earth First! was "informal" in order to avoid prosecution. It called itself a "movement" rather than an organization. There was no bureaucracy, no lobbyist, no paid staff, and only a cadre of volunteers. There were no membership lists, no lists of names of any kind, and no way to trace anyone to any activity.

For his model of the new group, Foreman adopted Edward Abbey's industry-killing novel, "The Monkey Wrench Gang." The book described acts of sabotage. Forman would call Earth First!'s attacks "eco-tage."

"Monkeywrenching" was a term used by Earth First! activists who poured sugar into the gas tanks of bulldozers to destroy the equipment of the hated timber companies. A favorite "Monkeywrenching" trick was to pound spikes into trees.

At the mills, saws hitting the spikes would explode like shrapnel. One worker lost most of his face when his blade hit an undetected spike. Over the years, "Monkeywrenchers" have become fond of sending mail bombs and letters in envelopes lined with razor blades. It pre-stages today's Anthrax-filled envelopes.

Today, Foreman's vision of radical environmental action has spawned a violent network of eco-terrorists and it's on the rise. They include the Earth Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Army, and the Environmental Rangers, to name a few. Joining forces with the eco-terrorists are the equally violent animal rights terrorists. The most prominent of these is the Animal Liberation Front. Just as Earth First! is a violent offshoot of the mainstream Sierra Club, animal rights terrorists have links to the well-known People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

There have, to date, been more than 3,000 acts of violence perpetrated by eco-terrorists. For years Americans were warned of potential attacks by foreign terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the Islamic Jihad. We ignored those warnings to our peril. We continue to ignore our domestic eco-terrorists at our peril. Inspired by the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, it will not be long before eco-terrorists and animal rights terrorists seek to demonstrate their capacity to wreak horror and death among American institutions and people.

Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Forum, an activist grassroots think tank headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org. (c) Tom DeWeese, 200l All rights reserved

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