The FBI and a building advocacy group have announced they will offer rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of ecoterrorists, especially those connected to the Earth Liberation Front, a group that has claimed responsibility for construction site fires in Washington state.
Authorities in the FBI's Seattle office and the Building Industry Association of Washington said Tuesday they will offer $100,000 rewards in their quest to combat ecoterrorism, particularly the attacks of the Earth Liberation Front.
Overv more than a decade, ELF has claimed responsibility for dozens of arson attacks and other incidents that have caused more than $100 million worth of damages. For most of existence the group has said it opposed any action that harmed humans, and no one has died in any of the fires or other incidents, and only a handful of people have been injured.
However, FBI authorities and Building Industry Association officials say they are concerned about the growing escalation of ELF's alleged activities and fear someone may be hurt or killed in future ecoterrorist attacks.
"While ELF used to spike trees and sabotage logging equipment, they're now firebombing neighborhoods and burning down apartment complexes," Building Industry Association of Washington president Lyle Fox said in a statement. "ELF's increasingly brazen attacks on urban targets have BIAW and the FBI worried that it is only a matter of time before someone is hurt or killed by ELF terrorists."
The FBI considers ELF and other radical environmental activist groups the top domestic terrorist threat in the United States.
ELF has not immediately responded to the allegations and reward offer. FBI authorities in Seattle said they are investigating several arsons and attempted arsons in Washington state over the past year and a half that are allegedly linked to ELF. The incidents include:
A fire in April 2004 that destroyed two homes under construction in Snohomish County in Everett in April 2004. Incendiary devices were found at three nearby housing developments.
The burning of a sign advertising lots for sale at a home construction site in Bellingham in July 2004.
An incendiary device failed to ignite at a home under construction in the east King County town of Sammamish in April 2005.
In addition, the FBI says it is continuing to investigate an attempted arson of a construction site in Remind last March. No one claimed responsibility, but officials said incendiary devices found at the site were similar to those used in ELF-claimed incidents.
The FBI estimates that ecoterrorist groups have committed more than 1,100 crimes in the United States since 1976, causing about $110 million in property damage. The Building Industry Association estimates ecoterrorists have caused nearly $8 million in property damage since 1996 in Washington state.
Anyone with information about ELF activities can reach the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force at 206-622-0460 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABC New Affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle contributed to this report.