Fierce Homeland Security
By Henry Kenyon
Little research has been done on environmental and animal-rights extremists even though they have been responsible for hundreds of arsons and bombings in the United States, says a new report from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
The report concludes that not much is known about these extremists or how their groups operate. Between 1995 and 2010, two groups, the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, were responsible for some 239 arsons and bombings, with 55 percent committed by ELF and 45 percent to ALF. Of the incidents, 62 percent were bombings, and 38 percent were arsons. The bulk of the incidents took place in the West, and 42 percent of them resulted in substantial or very substantial property damage and financial loss. But the report notes that no people were harmed by the attacks.
The number of incidents grew slowly from 1995 through 2001 and dropped in 2002. There was a spike in activity in 2003, with 28 incidents, compared to nine in 2002. Incidents declined through 2006, rose slightly in 2007, dropped in 2009 to only three events and jumped again in 2010 to 14 incidents. The report notes that it was often difficult to categorize the majority of the incidents (83.9 percent) as bombings or arsons because the perpetrators used incendiary devices. Other types of attacks included pipe bombs (4.7 percent), letter bombs (1.2 percent), smoke bombs (1.3 percent) and car/truck bombs (.7 percent).
Twenty-two percent of the bombings and arsons targeted private homes. These homes were typically newly built or under construction in areas targeted by members of the ELF. Other targets included meat or food processing plants (15 percent), automobile or truck dealerships (14 percent), and university research facilities (11 percent).
Additional targets included fur/leather companies, government facilities, timber/logging companies, fast-food restaurants, power plants, police, and pharmaceutical companies. The report found some variation in attack patterns, with ALF members conducting isolated attacks, while ELF members launched sprees of closely timed attacks.
The report notes that a relatively small number of people were responsible for the majority of the attacks. There were 147 perpetrators in the report’s database, but of those, only 59 were first-time offenders. Many of these individuals were responsible for multiple incidents, ranging from three to seven. The report also found that while the majority of perpetrators were white, male and had some college education, many of the multiple offenders were more likely to be female, be more educated and be a part of an informal cell.
– download the report, “An Overview of Bombing and Arson Attacks by Environmental and Animal Rights Extremists in the United States, 1995 – 2010” (.pdf)