Eco-terrorism is morally justified crime committed to save nature. The label "Eco-terrorist" is very ironic because alleged eco-terrorists would probably assert that the true eco-terrorists are the corporations and businesses which exploit and destroy the natural environment of the Earth. Eco-terrorism involves arson and burglary, trespassing, issuing death threats, and engaging in malicious destruction of property and vandalism; whatever it takes to preserve the environment-usually against fur farmers, slaughterhouses, transnational corporations, ranchers, miners, loggers, researchers, manufacturers or home builders. The FBI defines eco-terrorism as the threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, sub-national group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature. Eco-terrorism is a sub-category of domestic terrorism, and the ELF (Earth Liberation Front) and ALF (Animal Liberation Front) have consistently been ranked top domestic terrorists by the FBI since the late 1990s.
Some environmentalists were inspired by two books - The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) by Edward Abbey, a former forest ranger, and Ecodefense: a Field Guide to Monkeywrenching (1985) by Dave Foreman. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF), one of the frontrunners in environmental terrorism along with Animal Liberation Front (ALF), advocates "monkeywrenching", which includes tree spiking, arson, sabotage of logging or construction equipment, and other types of property destruction. These acts are primarily directed at entities which are perceived to be damaging to the natural environment.
The Animal Liberation Front’s terrorism is directed mostly at university research centers that use animals in experiments and also industries which they believe do animal testing. The ELF is reported to have openly claimed to have caused damages to industries worth $55 million in 2003 alone.
Eco-Terrorism Turns Sophisticated
Over the years eco terrorism too has become sophisticated. Eco terrorists too have formed terror cells and have carefully designed acts of destruction. This is mostly due to the "Green Scare," an operation started in the beginning of the 21st century by the FBI to crack down on environmentalists by utilizing extremely harsh sentences.
Animal rights and environmental activists in the US alone have caused more than $100 million in damage during the past two decades by their acts of arsons, bombings, vandalism and harassment. In the name of environmental preservation and moral obligation, fast-food restaurants have been bombed and car dealerships and housing developments burned.
People too have been targeted. They include those working for companies which are perceived as harming animals or destroying the environment. However, no people have been killed in terrorist attacks attributed to environmental or animal rights activists.
Environmental Movement to Eco-Terrorism
The environmental movement began in the late 19th century based on concern about protecting the countryside in Europe and the wilderness in the United States from the consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Early environmentalists believed it should be the government’s responsible to take care of the environment and conserve the resources.
Early environmental organizations were mostly lobbyist groups whose main concern was nature conservation, wildlife protection, and the pollution from industrial development and urbanization. Green political movements emerged in the 1960s in the form of activist nongovernmental organizations and environmentalist political parties. A small number among them formed activist groups who engaged themselves in eco-terrorism.
This group believed violent treatment of nature, especially in the logging and mining industries called for violent handling of the situation.
- History of the environmental movement