April 21, 2009 -- His tattoos appear to illustrate his mission. The flaming landscape surrounded by the words "It only takes a spark" on his chest. The progression of images on his abdomen, showing buildings burning and collapsing. A lone, leafless tree emerging from a road on his lower back.
But animal rights activist Daniel Andreas San Diego, 31, allegedly carried out acts similar to those depicted in his tattoos -- and that has landed him a spot on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list alongside Osama bin Laden.
The FBI claims the slight, eyeglass-wearing computer network specialist carried out two destructive bombings in California in 2003, alleged acts of eco-terrorism in furtherance of his anti-animal testing convictions.
Officials announced San Diego's addition to the list in a rare press conference at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. today. Law enforcement sources said it's the first time a suspected domestic terrorist has earned a spot on the list, which the bureau developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"San Diego's criminal acts of violence were domestic acts of terror planned out and possibly intended to take lives, destroy property and create economic hardship for the companies involved," Michael Heimbach Assistant Director for the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, said at the news conference.
The bureau is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
In August 2003, two bombs exploded at the corporate headquarters of Chiron Corp., a firm specializing in blood screening technology, in Emeryville, Calif.
Heimbach said the first bomb exploded, and that authorities searched the scene and discovered a second explosive. "Before the second device could be rendered safe, the device detonated," he said. "It is possible that this device was planted to target first responders."
A month later, a single explosive detonated at Shaklee Corporation, a natural products company headquartered in Pleasanton.
"The investigation revealed metal nails were used in the construction of the device to create a more forceful shrapnel effect," Heimbach said.
Fugitive Part of Suspected Eco-Terror Group
The incidents didn't result in any injuries but caused extensive property damage. Heimbach said authorities believe San Diego targeted the firms because of their ties to another company, Huntington Life Sciences, and that he operated as part of a larger San Francisco Bay area animal rights extremist organization, the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty campaign.
The group's "single goal," said Heimbach, was putting the company out of business and interrupting its animal experimentations.
In October of that year, agents say they searched San Diego's home and vehicle, finding bomb-making materials similar to those used in the attacks.
A federal grand jury in California indicted San Diego in 2004, charging him for his alleged role in the bombings, but he has eluded authorities.
The FBI believes San Diego could be in Costa Rica, but admits that leads in the case have been sparse. "The leads have gone stale on us," Heimbach conceded.
The FBI description of San Diego paints him as a committed vegan and knowledgeable computer specialist who "is a known animal rights activist with ties to animal rights groups" and "is known to possess a 9 mm handgun."
His wanted poster bears the hallmark fugitive warning "should be considered armed and dangerous."
"Animal rights and environmental extremists remain a significant threat based on the economic damage and widespread nature of this threat," Heimbach added, noting that eco-terrorists have carried out more than 1800 criminal acts and caused more than $110 million in damages.
The FBI is currently investigating about 170 animal rights or environmental extremism incidents, he added.