Over the past few years, the type of terrorism that America is at risk of has taken a major shift. From the 1960s until the late 1990s, most terrorism taking place on American soil or directed towards American targets abroad has been carried out by left-wing radicals. While the threat of an attack from right-wing extremists in the Middle East poses a serious threat, our focus must become more trained to the terrorists amongst our own ranks. Many of these left-wing groups were fronts for the Soviet Union, and their targets were largely corporate, as well as various small businesses. After the fall of Soviet Russia, many of these groups collapsed due to lack of funding. Yet some have flourished in recent years due to Hollywood activists and the media darlings who head these groups. Under the guise of ecology reform and animal rights, the Earth Liberation Front, as well as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have caused millions of dollars in damaged property and harmed countless lives (many of whom are the animals they are trying to “liberate”).
According to the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Jeff Jarboe, between 1996 and 2002, Earth Liberation Front (ELF) alone have commited “600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.” ELF itself claims its North American members have caused damages in excess of $100 million between 1997 and 2003. In August of 2003, a Hummer dealership in an eastern suburb of Los Angeles suffered the loss of 20 Hummers, with severe damage done to another 20, as well as several Chevrolet Tahoes. Now, I’m not a big fan of the new Hummer, I find it slightly wasteful because I am for the most part a utilitarian. I do, however, recognize that some would want to drive such a vehicle, thus it is available. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack, and since then only one man, Jeffrey Luers, has been brought to court and convicted. He will serve 22 years, if we are lucky. Another widely reported case occured late in 2004. Indian Head, Md. was another target of ecoterrorism. A neighborhood had been developed 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. These houses were in close proximity to the nation’s last undisturbed magnolia bog. The Sierra Club as well as other environmental groups protested the development, but lost. The houses were completed, but not inhabited at the time of the arson. A total of 12 homes were destroyed and another 41 suffered excess damage. The cost of damages is estimated at more than $10 million. A security guard, Aaron Speed, 21, has been apprehended and will be brought to trial. Unfortunately, the maximum penalty is only 20 years for arson.
Unlike Al-Qaeda, which has been deemed a military target by President Bush, ELF has enjoyed media attention without being targeted as a major threat. The leader of ELF, Craig Rosebraugh, has not been arrested for any of these attacks, and may never will be. An international team searches for Osama Bin Laden, who remains in hiding since September 11, 2001, while Mr. Rosebraugh has been a very public figure. He has been hosted by many northeastern and western colleges, and although there is ample evidence to warrant his arrest, the FBI will not touch him. The problem is, according to the Heartland Institute, “ELF has no formal headquarters or publicly known organizational structure. Rosebraugh says he doesn’t know who is or is not a member. But he knows every detail of what they do and is well-established as the one and only authoritative ELF media contact.” The only ones punished for eco-terrorism acts are those who are directly involved. Compare this to international terrorist groups in which we would rather target those at the top. Al-Qaeda, whose many top members have been apprehended or killed, has not carried out a major international attack since September 2001, although they have tried. Yet ELF, whose top officials appear at colleges across the country, and have scheduled appearances in many cities, enjoy and take advantage of the freedoms that the United States has given them. Which has been more effective, the few minor al-Qaeda terrorist incidents, or the unchecked terrorist incidents caused by ELF? We have to do something about this soon, or suffer the consequences.