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TERRA-RISTS: Released documents show FBI infiltrated environmental organizations, as with animal liberation groups

Peter Young of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) said he’s not surprised what the FBI did. 'If you don’t have a terrorist to fight, you have to make one up. It’s very convenient for the FBI to start to expand the definition of terrorism.'

JULES ROSCOE: The FBI investigated multiple environmental movements as cases of domestic ecoterrorism, according to documents obtained by Motherboard. The documents name groups like Greenpeace, Earth First!, and the Earth Liberation Front, and detail actions from scrawling “ELF” into the side of a diesel tank to shooting flares at a nuclear power plant.

Motherboard obtained the documents using a Freedom of Information Act request; in some cases, it took the FBI four years to provide the documents. They pertain primarily to the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, but have new relevance considering that some environmentalists have called for direct action to prevent or reverse the worst effects from climate change. The documents show how the FBI treated direct-action environmental organizations, and show what sorts of things the government considered to be “terrorism.”

The FBI provided Motherboard with more than 100 pages of documents about Greenpeace, one of the most famous environmental organizations in the world. Most of these documents are from the 1970s and 1980s; the FBI says that the group should be monitored for causing “civil unrest”… The FBI has previously said that Greenpeace was improperly put on an agency terrorism watchlist. Other environmental and animal rights groups have also been improperly associated with terrorism….

Documents obtained by Motherboard relate to Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front. Earth First!, which the FBI said was usually considered to be the “most radical” of the environmental movements… The FBI said the movement was a “criminal enterprise,” and filed it under cases of domestic terrorism.

The FBI defines ecoterrorism as “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons.” Though there were not any instances in the documents we received of criminal actions against people, property damage was very common.

Earth First! cut bolts which were securing the pylons of a ski resort’s chair lift, demanding that the trees be allowed to grow back, one document states… A letter protesting the investigation of Earth First! writes, “The Bureau’s gestapo-like planting of covert agents within the Earth First! organization itself is an intolerable destruction of the civil liberties and privacy of the American public…

One political activist, Peter Young, agrees. “That’s the rhetoric they’ve used going back to the 90s when I got involved,” said Young, who associates himself with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). When he was younger, he was arrested for cutting a fence to release mink from a fur farm in Wisconsin, and served two years’ time after being charged with animal enterprise terrorism. “I’ve been called a terrorist since I was 19.”

It was at that age that Young first got involved in animal activism, but he felt that it was lacking and ineffective. So, he started doing direct action on behalf of the ALF—cutting fences to release animals, or stealing equipment from slaughterhouses.

Young told Motherboard he would not label himself a terrorist, but that he’s not surprised that the FBI did. He said that, especially post-9/11, the agency had a “mandate” to fight the war on terror harder than before. “​​If you don’t have a terrorist to fight, you have to make one up,” he said. “I think it’s very convenient for the FBI to start to expand the definition of terrorism”…

For Greenpeace… direct action is a “last resort,” according to Rolf Skar, a campaign organizer for the group. “[Direct action] doesn’t come out of nowhere,” said Skar. “If we’re doing our jobs right, we’d rather sit down and talk first.” He added that the organization focuses more on legal battles and petitioning than street-level work…

“Legal tactics can be very effective,” said Young. “If you had the resources of a large group behind you, or you just had a lot of money, or connections, legal means of change can be highly highly effective.” But he notes that not everyone has those kinds of resources. And if you don’t, but you still want to make a difference, he said, “The most effective thing you can do is pick a target and figure out how you’re going to sabotage it”. SOURCE…


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