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Earth Liberation Front (ELF)

Disaffected environmentalists, in 1980, formed a radical group called "Earth First!" and engaged in a series of protests and civil disobedience events. In 1984, however, members introduced "tree spiking" (insertion of metal or ceramic spikes in trees in an effort to damage saws) as a tactic to thwart logging. In 1992, the ELF was founded in Brighton, England, by Earth First! members who refused to abandon criminal acts as a tactic when others wished to mainstream Earth First!. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) (in French "Front de libération de la Terre", also known in English Elves) was the collective name of autonomous individuals or dormant cells, which the ELF Press Office, used "economic sabotage and guerilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment."

ELF spread to the rest of Europe. It is now an international movement , whose actions are reported in 17 countries, and which is considered the little brother of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), given the cooperation between these two movements. Using the same pattern of leaderless resistance as the ALF, as well as similar principles, Supporters say ELF is a group of ecological defense seeking the deletion of concern for profitability, responsible for environmental destruction, causing financial damage to companies through ' direct action.

The ELF was ranked as the highest internal terrorist threat in the United States by the FBI in March 2001, and is classified as " eco-terrorist". ELF principles require that individuals or groups acting on their behalf "take all necessary precautions to avoid injuring any animal - human or non-human". Commenting on the absence of deaths in attacks by ELF, the Associate Deputy Director of the FBI responsible for counter-terrorism said: "I think we are lucky. Once the fires are lit, they can quickly become uncontrollable."

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are loosely-organized movements whose adherents engage in crimes like arson, fire bombings, vandalism, intimidation, assaults, stalking, etc. ELF and ALF recruit their membership from young people between the ages of 18 and 25. ELF and ALF are responsible for estimating conservatively, over $110 million in damages and 1,100 acts of terrorism in the decade 1995-2005. ELF and ALF's weapon of choice is arson. With direct actions such as cutting the brake lines of 38 seafood delivery trucks, or the use of fire bombs and incendiary devices, it is through luck not planning, that there have been no ELF and ALF casualties.

An analysis of incidents occurring between the year 1977 and 2004 reflects that nearly 70 percent of these direct actions are acts of violence, ranging in seriousness. Beyond that, about 10 percent of these are related to arson and other crimes.

In the 1990s, right-wing extremism overtook left-wing terrorism as the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat to the country. By the end of the 1990s, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups engage in much activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Law enforcement becomes involved when the volatile talk of these groups transgresses into unlawful action. The FBI estimated that by 2002 the ALF/ELF had committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.

In 1993, the ELF was listed for the first time along with the ALF in a communique declaring solidarity in actions between the two groups. This unity continues today with a crossover of leadership and membership. It is not uncommon for the ALF and the ELF to post joint declarations of responsibility for criminal actions on their web-sites. In 1994, founders of the San Francisco branch of Earth First! published in The Earth First! Journal a recommendation that Earth First! mainstream itself in the United States, leaving criminal acts other than unlawful protests to the ELF.

The ELF advocates "monkeywrenching," a euphemism for acts of sabotage and property destruction against industries and other entities perceived to be damaging to the natural environment. "Monkeywrenching" includes tree spiking, arson, sabotage of logging or construction equipment, and other types of property destruction. Speeches given by Jonathan Paul and Craig Rosebraugh at the 1998 National Animal Rights Conference held at the University of Oregon, promoted the unity of both the ELF and the ALF movements. The ELF posted information on the ALF website until it began its own website in January 2001, and is listed in the same underground activist publications as the ALF.

The most destructive practice of the ALF/ELF is arson. The ALF/ELF members consistently use improvised incendiary devices equipped with crude but effective timing mechanisms. These incendiary devices are often constructed based upon instructions found on the ALF/ELF websites. The ALF/ELF criminal incidents often involve pre-activity surveillance and well-planned operations. Members are believed to engage in significant intelligence gathering against potential targets, including the review of industry/trade publications, photographic/video surveillance of potential targets, and posting details about potential targets on the internet.

The ALF and the ELF have jointly claimed credit for several raids including a November 1997 attack of the Bureau of Land Management wild horse corrals near Burns, Oregon, where arson destroyed the entire complex resulting in damages in excess of four hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the June 1998 arson attack of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Damage Control Building near Olympia, Washington, in which damages exceeded two million dollars.

The ELF claimed sole credit for the October 1998, arson of a Vail, Colorado, ski facility in which four ski lifts, a restaurant, a picnic facility and a utility building were destroyed. Damage exceeded $12 million. On 12/27/1998, the ELF claimed responsibility for the arson at the U.S. Forest Industries Office in Medford, Oregon, where damages exceeded five hundred thousand dollars. Other arsons in Oregon, New York, Washington, Michigan, and Indiana have been claimed by the ELF. The ELF also claimed attacks on genetically engineered crops and trees. The ELF claimed these attacks totaled close to $40 million in damages.

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Page last modified: 24-09-2017 18:52:39 ZULU