Eco-terrorists affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) torched one suburban Seattle home and attempted to firebomb another in an April 13 night of terror, say federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigators. Nobody was hurt in the attacks, although police narrowly escaped harm when a firebomb planted in one of the homes failed to ignite.
Police Put at Risk
In the pre-dawn hours in Sammamish, a town of 33,000 people just east of Seattle, neighbors called police when they noticed a home on fire. On their way to the blaze, police noticed a second home that appeared to have signs of vandalism. While Eastside Fire & Rescue units arrived at the first blaze, police entered the second home.
Inside, police found the gas had been turned on and an incendiary device had been planted and was poised to explode. Police officers deactivated the incendiary device before it could detonate.
Outside, the arsonists had left a large white banner reading, “Where are all the trees? Burn, rapists, burn.” The banner was signed by ELF.
Said Ernie Ludwick, the owner of the first torched house, “I can see where the concrete floor had scalding, the fire marshall pointed it out, that was indicative of an accelerant.”
Ludwick estimated his house, which was under construction and only a few weeks from completion, will require at least $300,000 to repair.
Victims Are Environmentally Conscious
“I just wish these guys would call me and talk to me,” Ludwick told the King County Journal. “We’ve been so environmentally conscious.”
“I carefully threaded the house in between the trees to minimize the number of trees to be removed,” Ludwick told the Journal. “My partner is on the Critical Areas Ordinance advisory board.
“I’m sorry we had to open up enough space to fit the house in there,” Ludwick added, “but I don’t think that justifies firebombing the house.”
Noting the counterproductive effects of the arsonist’s attack, Ludwick said he would probably have to buy a new rack of lumber to rebuild his home.
Wave of Attacks Continues
The April 14 Seattle Times reported that the latest eco-terror attacks are merely part of an ongoing wave of attacks by environmental extremists in the greater Seattle area.
On April 20, 2004, two homes under construction in the Snohomish-area Lobo Ridge subdivision were destroyed by firebombs. Other homes under construction in Snohomish County subdivisions were targeted but escaped damage when the firebombs failed.
“Other recent arsons attributed to ELF included a fire in 2003 at a five-story apartment complex under construction in San Diego that caused $50 million in damage, and a May 2001 arson that destroyed the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture,” reported the Times.
Animal Rights Attacks Spreading
Terror attacks by animal rights organizations are also on the rise. According to the May 4 issue of Newsday, “Those who closely monitor groups like ALF (Animal Liberation Front) say such targeting is on the increase and has gotten very personal.”
“They identify somebody’s children; they follow the children home,” Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a group sponsored by institutions that depend on animals for research, told Newsday. “They’re going after the customers, like Forest Labs. They go after the support services–the plumbing company, the electrical company. They go down to the deepest depths to the landscaper and to the caterer.”
In testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2004, John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director of the Counterterrorism Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, estimated “ALF/ELF and related groups have committed more than 1,100 criminal acts in the United States since 1976, resulting in damages conservatively estimated at approximately $110 million.”
James Hoare ([email protected]) is managing attorney at the Syracuse, New York, office of McGivney, Kluger & Gannon.
For more information …
John E. Lewis’s May 18, 2004 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is available online at http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress04/lewis051804.htm.