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WHEN TALK TURNS TO TERROR
Homegrown Extremism In the U.S.

05/23/05

John LewisThey've committed 1,200 crimes and acts of domestic terrorism inside the U.S. over the past 15 years. Their attacks range from firebombing condominium complexes to vandalizing university research labs, from spray painting sports utility vehicles to destroying businesses and new homes. Who are they?

They’re eco-terrorists and animal rights extremists who—unlike other activists who debate the issues and work to change policies peacefully—take "direct action" against people or companies they feel are abusing animals or exploiting the environment.

On 5/18, a top FBI counterterrorism exec, John Lewis, called them “one of today's most serious domestic terrorism threats” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

"Attacks are growing in frequency and size. Harassing phone calls and vandalism now co-exist with improved explosive devices and personal threats to employees," he noted.

And while these terrorists haven't taken lives, Mr. Lewis said there are “troubling signs” that this might change. “We have seen an escalation in violent rhetoric and tactics. One extremist recently said, ‘If someone is killing, on a regular basis, thousands of animals, and if that person can only be stopped in one way by the use of violence, then it is certainly a morally justifiable solution.’”

How are we responding? With direct action of our own, including:

  • Creating a “headquarters-based team of national intelligence analysts, program managers, and seasoned field agents” that draws, in particular, on our abilities to track terrorist money flows and communications;
  • Producing and sharing increased intelligence on animal-rights extremism and eco-terrorism with our partners, including 64 raw intelligence reports since 2003 and 19 strategic assessments since last year.
  • Providing increased training to colleagues in our 103 multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Forces nationwide.

Successes are mounting. Since 2004, 17 individuals have been arrested and one convicted for attacks stretching from Virginia to California.

You can help. Have you seen Daniel Andreas San Diego, an animal rights activist wanted for his alleged involvement in two bombings in California in 2003? If so, contact us.

Links: The full testimony | Related testimony | The Case of the Calculating Eco-Terrorist