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Encyclopedia > Operation Backfire (FBI)

Operation Backfire is an ongoing multi-agency criminal investigation, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), into destructive acts in the name of animal rights and environmental causes in the United States. [1] F.B.I. and FBI redirect here. ... Animal liberation redirects here. ...

Contents

Background

In 2004 the FBI merged seven independent investigations from its Portland, Oregon field office and called them Operation Backfire. According to an agency statement, the operational focus is on investigating acts of domestic terrorism, carried out on behalf of two activist groups, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF). [2] Nickname: Location of Portland in Multnomah County and the state of Oregon Coordinates: , Country State Counties Multnomah County Incorporated February 8, 1851 Government  - Mayor Tom Potter[1]  - Commissioners Sam Adams Randy Leonard Dan Saltzman Erik Sten  - Auditor Gary Blackmer Area  - Total 376. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is the collective name for anonymous and autonomous individuals or groups that, according to the now defunct Earth Liberation Front Press Office, use economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment. ... Beagles stolen by British ALF activists from a testing laboratory owned by the Boots Group. ...


Arrests

In December 2005 and January 2006, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI indicted five women and six men on a total of 65 charges, including arson, conspiracy, use of destructive devices, and destruction of an energy facility. The defendants were named as Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey, Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker, Jonathan Paul, Rebecca Rubin, Suzanne Savoie, Darren Thurston and Kevin Tubbs. [3] A 12th alleged co-conspirator, William "Bill" Rodgers, also known as Avalon, committed suicide while in police custody. [4] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (abbreviated ATF, sometimes BATF or BATFE) is a United States federal agency; more specifically a specialized law enforcement and regulatory organization within the United States Department of Justice. ... In the common law legal system, an indictment is a formal charge of having committed a serious criminal offense. ... The Skyline Parkway Motel in Afton, Virginia after an arson fire on July 9, 2004. ... Bill Rodgers a. ... For other uses, see Suicide (disambiguation). ...


According to reports, [5] and their own websites, [6] [7] [8] most of the indicted individuals have claimed to be innocent of the charges. Prosecutors allege that the 11 conspirators collectively referred to themselves as "The Family" and had taken an oath to protect each other. [9] The FBI indicated that some of the charges relate to an 1998 arson attack, claimed by the ELF, on the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado. The combined cost of the damage from the attacks is estimated at approaching $80 million. [10] This article does not cite any references or sources. ... There are also Vail, Arizona and Vail, Iowa. ...


Convictions

In late 2006, a number of self-described ELF members pled guilty to arson and other charges in U.S. federal courts.[11]


On November 11, 2006, Joyanna Zacher, Nathan Block, Daniel McGowan and Jonathan Paul pleaded guilty to several eco-sabotage related charges, as part of a global resolution agreement with prosecutors. Judge Ann Aiken presided over the hearings. The change of pleas from the four defendants resolves all current “Operation Backfire” cases in Oregon.[12] Daniel McGowan 2004 Daniel McGowan is a left-wing extremist that was arrested and charged in federal court on multiple counts of arson and conspiracy, relating to the arson of Superior Lumber company in Glendale, Oregon on January 2, 2001 and Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon on May 21...


On December 15, 2006, Chelsea Dawn Gerlach and Stanislas Gregory Meyerhoff, pleaded guilty to $20 million worth of arsons committed between 1996 and 2001 by the Eugene-based cell of the ELF known as "The Family". Their fire-bombing of a Vail ski resort resulted in damages totalling $12 million, with the FBI characterized the ELF as the United States' "top domestic terrorism threat". Gerlach has previously pleaded guilty to 18 counts of arson in other attacks, saying she was motivated by "a deep sense of despair and anger at the deteriorating state of the global environment," but adding that she has "since realized the firebombings did more harm than good." Meyerhoff has renounced ELF and pleaded guilty to 54 counts, but is still under indictment in Michigan, Arizona, Washington, Wyoming and California.[13] Chelsea Dawn Gerlach (born in 1977) is a radical environmentalist associated with the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative, intelligence agency, and the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ...


The FBI alleged that the group was led by William C. Rodgers, who was arrested in December 2005 and committed suicide in jail just before he was to be transferred to Oregon. Two other ELF members indicted in the Vail arson, Josephine Sunshine Overaker and Rebecca J. Rubin, have not been apprehended. Bill Rodgers a. ...


Related operations

In January and February 2006, as a result of separate investigations, but widely reported as extensions of Operation Backfire, [14][15] [16] three more individuals, Zachary Jenson, Eric McDavid and Lauren Weiner, were arrested in Auburn, California for conspiring to damage facilities "by explosive or fire." [17] Eric McDavid, the only one of the three who refused to sign a plea agreement, was found guilty on all counts,[1] and faces up to 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, when sentenced on the 6th of December. In Washington, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher were arrested on charges relating to a 2001 arson on a farm near Clatskanie, Oregon [18] and in Tucson, Arizona, Rod Coronado, a prominent American eco-anarchist, was arrested on a felony charge of demonstrating the use of a destructive device. [19] Auburn is the county seat of Placer County, California, USA. The population was 12,462 at the 2000 census. ... For the capital city of the United States, see Washington, D.C.. For other uses, see Washington (disambiguation). ... Clatskanie is a city located in Columbia County, Oregon. ... Rod Coronado Rodney Adam Coronado is an American eco-anarchist and animal rights activist who has been convicted of arson, conspiracy and other crimes in connection with his activism but now advocates non-violent action. ...


Analysis

The indictments of the 18 activists for alleged acts of eco-terrorism has drawn condemnation from activists and alternative media organizations, with the website www.fbiwitchhunt.com calling them a "witch hunt". [20] The National Lawyers Guild condemned the operation and the resulting indictments, arguing that "life sentences for property damage offenses where the actor has no intent to harm an individual are simply unconstitutional." [21] "My Name Is Ruth" from the blog indybay.org claims the operations were carried out "in the midst of 9/11 McCarthyism," [22], collectively labelling them the "Green Scare." [23] Animal liberation activist and physician Jerry Vlasak accused the FBI of targeting "a bunch of above-ground, well-known, peaceful animal-rights activists and environmental activists and charg[ing] them with being members of the ALF and the ELF." [24] In response, U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales argued that "there’s a clear difference between constitutionally protected advocacy — which is the right of all Americans — and violent criminal activity." [25] Eco-terrorism is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Domestic Terrorism Section 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, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often... 1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the town of Schiltach in 1531. ... The National Lawyers Guild is a progressive Bar Association in the United States dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. ... The date that commonly refers to the attacks on United States citizens on September 11, 2001 (see the September 11, 2001 Attacks). ... A 1947 comic book published by the Catechetical Guild Educational Society warning of the dangers of a Communist takeover. ... The term Green Scare, alluding to the Red Scares, periods of fear over communist infiltration of U.S. society, is a term popularized by environmental activists to refer to legal action by the U.S. government against the radical environmentalist movement. ... Jerry Vlasak is a U.S. physician and prominent member of several controversial nonprofit organizations, including Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. ... Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955 in San Antonio, Texas, USA) is the current United States. ...


Status of Law Enforcement operation:

  • Ongoing/ Active

See also

Earth First! is a radical environmental defense movement, pioneered in the early 1980s by Arizona desert activists Dave Foreman, Mike Roselle and others. ... Craig Rosebraugh is an environmental activist who has been associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and who has served as a spokesman for both groups press office. ... Jeff Free Luers is an anarchist and environmental activist from Eugene, Oregon currently serving a twenty-two year prison sentence for arson. ... Daniel McGowan 2004 Daniel McGowan is a left-wing extremist that was arrested and charged in federal court on multiple counts of arson and conspiracy, relating to the arson of Superior Lumber company in Glendale, Oregon on January 2, 2001 and Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon on May 21...

External links

  • Department of Justice Press release
  • Independent Media Center report on Operation Backfire
  • The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
  • Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
  • Civil Liberties Defense Center
  • Green Is The New Red.com

 
 

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