There is an organization that has many members inside the United States and has committed numerous terrorist acts over the past couple of years. According to the FBI, in a six-year span, this organization has caused over 600 criminal actions amounting to $43 million in damages. This organization has members willing to risk their lives for its cause.

We’re talking about al Qaeda, right?

Nope – I’ve actually just described the Earth Liberation Front. The Web site,, describes the group as “an underground movement with no leadership [or] membership” and a “non-hierarchical” form. The site also preaches that its creators are not in any way part of the ELF.

It may be true that the creators of the site – which purports to be “journalistic in intent” – are not affiliated with the organization (though that seems highly unlikely), but as a nationwide organization with such a well-known agenda, it is hard to believe that the organization does not have any members.

In 1998, ELF took responsibility for a fire that burned down a ski resort in Vail, Colo., causing millions of dollars in damage.

The explanation: the resort was built on the habitat of the endangered lynx, which had just been introduced into the area.

In 2002, the organization took responsibility for the destruction of the University of Minnesota Microbial and Genomics Center.

The explanation: the center was promoting the destruction of nature.

Craig Rosebraugh, former spokesperson for the organization which, ironically, doesn’t have any members, explains to ELF members that they should use, “any means necessary to battle the very heads of government and U.S. corporations. Hit them in their personal lives and visit their homes. . Strike hard and fast.”

The criminal acts of those who associate themselves with the ELF shed light on a greater tragedy in American society. The U.S. government – the institution which allows for creation of these activist groups – is the very target of the destruction caused by this group.

More importantly, these are individuals committing terrorist acts within the country, and does the media cover it?


Terrorism, according to the State Department, is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

The acts committed in the name of the ELF are premeditated and have a purpose: to make people realize the “horrors” of pollution and animal hatred.

The scary thing is, burning down a ski resort seems a bit more destructive than the unintentional death of a lynx.

The Web site named above claims, “Any individuals who committed arson or any other illegal acts under the ELF name are individuals who choose to do so under the banner of ELF and do so only driven by their personal conscience.”

Does this mean ELF doesn’t reject these terrorist acts?

Conveniently, the site dodges the question.

Maybe ELF doesn’t condone these acts; maybe they’re just victims of bad publicity. Maybe all those that commit crimes in the name “ELF” are just referring to those short guys that help Santa make toys. Seems unlikely.

Leslie James Pickering, former spokesperson for ELF in an interview with Tom Foreman of National Geographic, stated that, “We’re not saying that at all – education, and other forms of legal protest are necessary and have been going on for decades in this country. And what we’re seeing is that that isn’t gonna work on its own, it has never worked on its own.”

Foreman later asked, “So as a tactic, this idea of burning buildings is a great idea?”

“Oh, it’s excellent,” was the response.

So now I ask all ELF advocates, how would you feel if a pro-industrial advocate burned down Yellowstone, or a businessman planted a bomb in an animal shelter or even better, if it was your own house being burned to save a bald eagle – doesn’t seem so fun now.

Michael Birrer is a sophomore in the College.

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