ELF Extremists Claim Responsibility for Weekend Arson at Maryland Development Site

The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, Maryland, reported that it had received an e-mail claiming to be from Earth Liberation Front extremists claiming responsibility for a fire Sunday that destroyed recently built, unoccupied townhouses. The fire caused an estimated $225,000 in damages.

According to the Associated press, the e-mail sent to the newspaper read,

Last night we, the Earth Liberation Front, put the torch to a development of Ryan Homes in Hagerstown, Maryland (off of Route 40, behind the Wal-Mart). We did so to strike at the bottom line of this country’s most notorious serial land rapist. We warn all developers that the people of the Earth are prepared to defend what remains of the wild and the green. We encourage all who watch with sadness while developers sell out the future of us and our children to join us in resisting them in any and every possible way. The Ents are going to war.

The ELF claim has brought the FBI into the investigation of the arson.

This is apparently the first arson in Maryland claimed by the Earth Liberation Front.

Sources:

FBI Probes Claim That ELF Set Western Md. Fires. Associated Press, November 21, 2005.

Arson eyed in town house fires. Karen Hanna, The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown), November 21, 2005.

Justus Ireland Says Its All His Lawyer’s Fault

A little over a year ago, Justus Ireland plead guilty to setting a fire at Stock Lumber Co. in Utah. Ireland painted “ELF” on a truck at the lumber company and used an unattended fax machine at a health clinic to fax a letter to local television stations claiming the fire in the name of the Earth Liberation Front.

Ireland, who was on probation for aggregated sexual abuse charges in Arizona, reached a plead deal that reduced his maximum sentence to just 5 to 20 years. Ireland was ultimately sentenced to only seven years and three months.

Now, Ireland his appealing that sentence, claiming that prosecutors promised he would get the minimum 5 year sentence if he plead guilty, and that his lawyer deceived him about the nature of the plead deal he agreed to.

Ireland now claims that he was under the influence of a number of drugs, including antidepressant klonopin along with valium, percocet, xanax, oxycontin, and morphine when he agreed to the plea deal. Ireland is asking that his sentence be reduced to the fiver years he claims he was promised.

There is an interesting side note in the Salt Lake Tribune’s story about whether or not Ireland’s act of violence was really an Earth Liberation Front crime. According to the Tribune,

. . . A former lumberyard employee who had been fired for missing work, he [Ireland] admitted throwing lighted flares into a truck and under a pallet behind the company building.

He also spray-painted “ELF,” an apparent reference to the anarchist Earth Liberation Front, on the side of the building and on a truck. Authorities initially called Ireland a “domestic terrorist,” but later said the purported ELF connection was merely to throw investigators off.

Although Earth Liberation Front-oriented sites reprinted stories about Ireland’s crime as if it was the sort of legitimate act it favored, the Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network refused to support Ireland given his history of sexual assault. At the time it issued a press release saying,

Justus Ireland is charged with involvement in the ALF arson which occurred
against an animal husbandry target in Utah. He is also individually charged
with an arson against the Stock Building Supply company. This latter action
was claimed by the ELF. Following his being charged Ireland has been
remanded into custody. However ELP is NOT supporting Ireland as he is a
known sex offender who has previously carried out a violent sexual assault
on a female child. A quick search on the web will bring up Ireland’s sexual
offending history. ELP does not support sex offenders and therefore will
not be supporting Ireland either now or at any time in the future. In
solidarity with his young victim we would encourage others to take a similar
line.

This was an odd line to take. After all, this group recognizes and offers support for Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal, and convicted murderer Fran Thompson. It is not like Earth Liberation Prisoner’s Support Network actually cares about the killing of human beings — Kaczynski tried to blow up a commercial airliner and only narrowly failed due to a faulty timing mechanism (for awhile, investigators assumed the Unabomber was a disgruntled airline employee). He did manage to kill the owner of a computer store (you know those evil computers — the sort ELPSN uses to e-mail its press releases).

Presumably the ELPSN’s refusal to take on Ireland is based on its view that its supporters will find nothing wrong with trying to blow up an airliner, but they might be aghast at supporting someone convicted of sexual assault. Ireland should have stuck to blowing up mass transit instead of sexually assaulting young girls and perhaps he’d still have the ear of the ELF wackos.

Source:

Press Release. Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network, October 10, 2004.

‘Amped up’ arsonist: Lawyers duped me. Pamela Manson, The Salt Lake Tribune, October 5, 2005.

Helen Woodson Will Say Anything to Excuse Her Violence

Someone on AR-News recently pointed to an article by convicted environmental/anti-globalist activist Helen Woodson that was originally published in the Earth First! Journal.

The person who re-posted Woodson’s article on the Guerilla News Network web site provides this bit of introductory comment,

Some interesting insights about current efforts to associate EF!, ELF, and ALF with the popular notion of “terrorism” and also with more ‘mainstream’ and pacifist collectives espousing ‘direct action’. From the Plowshares, anti-nuke, activist Helen Woodson, who was arrested in 1984 and sentenced to 18 years in prison for a non-violent protest at a nuclear missile silo. Also, current contact information to support Helen; since she was recently re-arrested and is now facing several more years of confinement.

Its fascinating how extremists like this just outright lie. If you didn’t know anything about Helen Woodson, you’d think she is some sort of pacifist.

For some reason, the GNN poster didn’t think it was relevant to point out that in addition to her sentence for using a jackhammer on a Minuteman II missile silo, Woodson is also currently in jail after being convicted of armed robbery and for threatening communication. In typical non-violent, pacifist style Woodson mailed threatening letters accompanied by .38 bullets to Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and a number of other government officials. Also, it is worth noting that she only served 7 years in the silo case — she’s spent far more time in jail for her violent crimes than she did for the Minute Man case.

Like other violent extremists, Woodson doesn’t consider anything she did to have been violent. As she writes,

The real terrorism is the destruction wreaked by US government, military, corporate and economic power. It is what the writer Arundhati Roy calls “the arrogance of the human race toward other living things, which will probably be the ultimate undoing of the human species.”

What’s a little death threat or armed robbery,after all?

Anyway, Woodson’s article is as confused as she is. On the one hand, she complains that the government has unfairly linked her actions with the Animal/Earth Liberation Front and Earth First!, but then says that she’s happy to be linked to such groups and likely won’t dispute the government’s claims,

Recently, I received my Presentence Investigation Report (PSI). A section of the PSI devoted to my “group and associate affiliations” says that I am considered an “imprisoned terrorist.” Three of my alleged affiliations are grouped together—Earth First!, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)—all believed to be dangerous. The ELF is singled out as “one of the nation’s most prolific domestic terrorist organizations.”

Until recently, both state and federal courts could use such information as an “aggravating factor” warranting “upward departure” in sentencing. However, in June, the US Supreme Court ruled in Blakely v. Washington (124 S. Ct. 2531) that only factors proved in court can be considered. Allegations of “terrorist group affiliation” or “federal crime of terrorism” will have to be made in the indictment or plea agreement, as will the many other factors previously introduced at the last minute in a variety of cases.

. . .

I am expected to appeal the PSI “terrorist group affiliation.” If it goes unchallenged, I am considered to have acceded to it, and it could be used against me in the future. Even more, I am expected to want it off of my record because my actions have a religious foundation, and this association could “tarnish my image.” I suggest that the best response is to do just the opposite, not with a meaningless display of unanimity, but with a respectful acknowledgement and acceptance of differences in orientation and approach.

. . .

It is those opposing that arrogant power who are acting responsibly and with integrity. It is a richly varied community of conscience, and for my part, affiliation with EF!, the ALF and the ELF is one that I am happy to embrace, clearly and publicly.

With any luck, Woodson will have the rest of her life in prison to contemplate such issues.

Sources:

Terrorism, the Law and Guilt by Association. Helen Woodson, Earth First! Journal, March 2005.

He’s A Good Boy — He Just Occasionally Commits Acts of Arson!

The Auburn Journal ran an article on March 20 about accused arson Ryan Lewis, 21, who remains in jail in Sacramento while awaiting a trial on federal arson and conspiracy charges.

Lewis, you might remember from our previous coverage of his case, allegedly planted incendiary devices at several sites near Sacramento, most of which failed to ignite. Lewis did allegedly cause about $50,000 in fire damage at an apartment complex that was under construction, but the quick response of the fire department limited damages.

At the site of the attacks, Lewis allegedly claimed the acts in the name of the Earth Liberation Front, allegedly painting “ELF” at two of sites hit by arson.

So the article is a bit odd — the gist of it is that Lewis’ family insisting that he is not a terrorist but simply a low-level vandal.

According to the paper, Lewis’ relatives have been flooding the newspaper with letters making their case that poor Ryan Lewis is simply misunderstood. For example, Lewis’s aunt, Monique Lewis, penned this bit of wisdom about the arsons,

In the ’60s events such as those that Ryan is being accused of would have been considered ‘protesting,’ but now it is labeled ‘terrorism.’

Okay, maybe in parts of the South it might have been considered non-violent to firebomb a Black church or home, but in the rest of the civilized world, such acts were always considered acts of violence. Does Monique Lewis really expect to believe that if someone tried to firebomb her domicile, that she’d just pass it off as nothing more than political protest?

Ryan’s father, Greg, excuses the arsons as simply “political and environmental protest gone awry.” Huh? The only thing that went awry is that most of the devices Lewis planted failed to ignite.

Ryan’s family tries to downplay his connection with any sort of broader Earth Liberation Front conspiracy, but Ryan’s own statement to FBI puts lies to their statements. According to the affidavit filed by the FBI agent investigating the case,

After initially denying any knowledge of the arson attempts, Ryan Lewis admitted to transporting to the Auburn arson scene, components of the incendiary devices knowing that the would be used to commit an arson. These components included six, white, five-gallon buckets containing a mixture of red diesel and gasoline. Ryan Lewis also admitted to having stolen the red diesel fuel from four construction sites in the Auburn area. He also admitted to knowing and being in contact with the individuals who committed the attempted arsons prior to the arsons.

Ryan claimed that he did not have any involvement with the Lincoln arson attempt and that he does not know the identity of the persons who committed that crime or who used his components to commit the Auburn attempted arson. He claimed that following the Lincoln arson attempt, he communicated with the perpetrators of that crime who directed him to deliver the components to the Auburn location.

The statements of Ryan’s friends link him solidly to the first attempted arson, and his own statements link him not only to the other arsons, but to a wider conspiracy involving as-yet-unindicted individuals. By Ryan’s own statements, he’s not some loose cannon running amok by himself, but rather participated in a relatively sophisticated criminal conspiracy that included layers of secrecy to insulate and protect the identities of those involved. Sorry, Greg, but that’s not just “protest gone awry,” but rather a young adult making all the wrong choices.

The Auburn Journal notes that while in prison Ryan has reached out to other extremists,

A posting on the Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network Web site, www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk, claims “Eco-defense remand prisoner” Lewis has contacted the North American ELP confirming that he welcomes letters of support.

From other information in the affidavits against Ryan Lewis and his friend, it seems Lewis became infatuated with a violent strain of anarchism and saw himself as some sort of modern-day revolutionary doing his part to overthrow “the system.”

It is understandable that Lewis’ family is concerned about his welfare and future, but the bottom line is that people who run around firebombing buildings out of political animus are a menace, and must be dealt with harshly in order to deter those who might think about emulating them. Lewis had numerous opportunities open to him for genuine political protest, but instead chose arson as his means of expressing his discontent. His family asks us to consider mitigating circumstances and try to understand Ryan — something Ryan himself refused to do for others while he was busing fill plastic jugs with gasoline and spray painting “ELF” on his targets.

Assuming he is found guilty, a long prison sentence is more than justified in his case.

Source:

Questions still remain around arson suspects. Penne Usher, Auburn Journal, March 20, 2005.

More Arrests in California Eco-Terrorists Attacks

Additional arrests were made in March in a series of firebombings of California and construction sites.

Ryan Lewis, 21 was arrested in February. Additional arrests and indictments in the case include Lili Marie Holland, 20, Jeremiah Dean Colcleasure, 24, and Eva Rose Holland, 25.

All four are charged with conspiracy to commit arson. Lewis is additionally charged with three counts of attempted arson and five counts of arson. Eva Holland faces three counts of attempted arson. Colcleasure and Lili Holland each face two counts of attempted arson. Each count carries a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.

The four are currently scheduled to go to trial on May 20.

According to the affidavit filed by the FBI in the case, the four were acquaintances who attended a Christmas Eve party held at the Holland’s home. Colcleasure and Lili Holland both told the FBI agent that the four left the party in Lewis’ vehicle and drove to a subdivision under construction and attempted to firebomb it. The incendiary devices Lewis used failed to ignite.

The full text of the affidavit against Lewis can be read here. The full text of the affidavit against the Hollands and Colcleasure can be read here.

Sources:

Four indicted in series of Sierra fire bombings. Don Thompson, Associated Press, March 10, 2005.

Alleged ecoterrorism trial is set for May. Ryan Sabalow, Auburn Journal (California), March 13, 2005.

Australian Minister Accuses PETA of Involvement with Terrorist Groups

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently threatened to sue Australia’s Agricultural Minister Warren Truss after Truss accused the animal rights group of providing aid and comfort to animal and environmental terrorists.

Truss apparently cited testimony by the Center for Consumer Freedom about PETA’s alleged involvement with the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. CCF reprinted part of Truss speech which said,

But even more concerning, it has been alleged in a US Senate hearing by the same organization that PETA has provided aid and comfort to people associated with two groups considered domestic terrorist threats by the FBI — the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

According to the FBI, the two groups have been responsible for more than 600 crimes since 1996, causing more than $43 million in damage. The ALF even brags on its website that the two groups committed “100 illegal direct actions” — like blowing up four-wheel-drives, destroying the brakes on seafood delivery trucks, and planting firebombs in restaurants — in 2002 alone.

PETA lawyer Jeff Kerr threatened to sue Truss calling the claims part of a smear campaign by a “discredited group.”

If the statements are untrue and part of a smear campaign, then why hasn’t PETA sued the Center for Consumer Freedom for making the same statements for several years now? Perhaps PETA doesn’t think it would help to go into court only to have CCF show PETA’s own 2001 tax return showing a $15,000 donation to the Earth Liberation Front. Or maybe it doesn’t want to be reminded of Ingrid Newkirk’s odd behavior in the Rodney Coronado case which was cited in the government’s sentencing memo (emphasis added),

Forensic evidence discovered during the investigation confirmed that Coronado played an important role in planning and executing the ALF’s campaign of terrorism. Investigators learned that immediately before and after the MSU arson, a Federal Express package had been sent to a Bethesda, Maryland address from an individual identifying himself as “Leonard Robideau”. The first package went to Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder.

. . .

Significantly, Newkirk had arranged to have the package delivered to her days before the MSU arson occurred.

Not to mention quotes from everyone from Bruce Freidrich to Dan Mathews to Newkirk herself expressing approval for actual acts of violence and destruction and anticipation that more such acts might be forthcoming.

I suspect that this lawsuit will have the same sort of longevity as PETA’s lawsuit against New Jersey over another PETA attorney’s violent altercation with a deer.

Source:

PETA may sue over Truss’ terror comments. Australian Associated Press, March 3, 2005.

Not A G’Day For PETA Down Under. Press Release, Center for Consumer Freedom, March 4, 2005.