Vital Signs

American Terrorists, Environmental-Style

Terrorists are on the loose in America—enviroterrorists.  In early August 2003, radical environmentalists apparently burned down an apartment complex under construction in San Diego.  Ecoterrorists next attacked four SUV dealerships in West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb.

These crimes were likely perpetrated by the so-called Environmental Liberation Front (ELF), which has long boasted of committing arson and bombings.  In 2002, ELF issued “an open call for direct action.”  It also took responsibility for torching a Forest Service lab in Pennsylvania.  The SUV vandals painted “ELF” on a number of vehicles.  In mid-September 2003, federal agents arrested a 25-year-old member of a co-op supposedly dedicated to peace and environmentalism for perpetrating the SUV incident.

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is similar.  The two groups are blamed for causing $45 million in damage in a campaign involving at least 600 arsons and other incidents going back to 1996.  ALF’s spokesman explains: “It’s a war.  A long, hard, bloody, war.”

And it’s a war about which most Americans are unaware.

Ecoterrorism started to receive attention in the early 1970’s when “the Fox,” a lone environmental activist, engaged in a sustained campaign of ecosabotage against several Chicago-area firms.  Groups called...

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