The Green Scare: ELF/ALF in the United States
In February 2003, FBI Director Robert Mueller expanded the definition of terrorism to include ?ecotage? and radical environmentalism, calling the ELF and ALF the biggest domestic terrorism threat facing the US . Radical environmentalism follows a cell structure that seeks to maintain the anonymity of members and leaders, much like the networks of al-Qaeda , in turn making detection and apprehension extremely difficult. However, US Attorney Karin Immergut has managed to indict 11 radical environmentalists on 65 counts of ecotage (many of which can be found in the TRC Terrorist Attack Database), to include the hallmark act of arson, between 1996 and 2001, dubbed ?Operation Backfire.? The cell is known as ?The Family? and was jointly investigated by federal and Oregon authorities. NSA and FISA This case is the single largest indictment against eco-terrorism ever, and therefore it is critical from the US government perspective that the indictment stand. If ELF/ALF are considered to be terrorist organizations by the US government, as Mueller has said, their wiretaps should not violate the 4th Amendment?which protects freedom from unreasonable search and seizure?because they are automatically suspects by affiliation and were likely subject to the warrant-less wiretaps. Federal Prosecutor Stephen Peifer?s defense that his staff has insufficient clearances to access National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps and thus is unable to answer the court?s questions on his own evidence is questionable and may do a grand disservice to his case. If the cell is exclusively a US-based one with no evidence of any international operations, then the wiretaps may, in fact, be illegal. However, three of the defendants may currently be outside the US and thereby give more credence to the network?s international conspiracy. Further, both ELF and ALF do have an international presence and, thus, could be justifiable targets under NSA and FISA wiretaps, just like al-Qaeda would be. Eco-sabateur = Terrorism Many people are questioning the linkages of radical environmentalism to a greater network of terrorists, like that of al-Qaeda. Further, many question why efforts are focused on the eco-movement, which has yet to injure any humans in the US, and not on discovering bona fide terrorists, like Adnan el-Shukrajuma, Aiesha Siddiqui, and notably Osama bin Laden himself, all of whom remain at large. However, the radical eco-movement?s inclusion as a terrorist organization has opened significant financial resources to help thwart attacks in the US. This may, in turn, be used to help justify the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) by showing concrete successes in arresting and prosecuting these terrorists in lieu of goliaths like bin Laden and Zawahiri. Conclusion The indictment calls out 11 suspects; however, four defendants?three fugitives and one dead man?are left to face charges, while six others have copped plea deals. The trial has been delayed from October 31 to March 2007 or later to decide if the defendants should have access to statements and plea agreements filed for their case. Their ability to review these documents may threaten witnesses? safety, as e-threats have already been found against so-called ?snitches? of the underground eco-movement. The phenomena of using the Internet to suggest attacks against enemies of the eco-movement are certainly not new. Clearly, the radical environmental movement is still alive and thriving in the US. While the US judicial process is calling the perpetrators of violence to justice, the process is slow and wrought with bureaucracy and red tape. Regardless, confidence in US jurisprudence must be ensured so that perpetrators of ecotage and radical environmentalism understand that the criminal justice elements of the US judicial review will go after them for their crimes.