Eco-terrorism refers to the use of violence and vandalism to target industries that are thought to  degrade the natural environment.

The anarchic eco-terrorist group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), for instance, advocates “economic sabotage and property destruction” against enterprises whose activities result in “the destruction of the environment.” ELF has declared war against “greedy capitalists” and “rich scum,” particularly among the timber, construction, and automotive industries.

Similarly, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) states that it “carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.” The chief targets of ALF are scientists and technicians involved in laboratory testing of animals, usually on government contracts and most commonly in experiments for new medicines and medical treatments. Other “exploiters” who, by ALF’s telling, “profit from the misery and exploitation of animals” include hunters, fishers, butchers, factory farmers, and restaurateurs, as well as those who use animals to entertain the public (in zoos, circuses, and rodeos). The fur, meat, egg, and dairy industries are also viewed as major offenders.

The destructive actions launched by ELF, ALF and other like-minded groups became matters of great concern to law-enforcement authorities by the early 2000s. In 2006, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said that one of the Bureau’s “highest domestic terrorism priorities” was to prosecute people who committed crimes “in the name of animal rights or the environment.” Mueller’s statement underlined the fact that although these radicals were usually dismissed merely as eccentric individuals who engaged in random acts that often seemed like pranks, they were in fact more mainstream than they may have appeared. Rather than being a deranged offshoot of environmentalism, said Mueller, eco-terrorists actually represented some of its core values, particularly in their attack on human technology, human progress, and even human life.

Indeed, eco-terrorism is not merely a war against buildings or in behalf of animals or pristine ecosystems. It is more profoundly a war against human beings, particularly the creative ones seeking to expand human frontiers and make mankind’s earthly life safer and more productive by means of science and technology. As Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate observed in 2006: “The individuals singled out for attack by environmental terrorists — namely, scientists, inventors, and businessmen — are the creators of industrial civilization. As heirs of Newton, scientists discover truths about the workings of nature. As heirs of Edison, inventors use these truths to create new products which improve human life. As heirs of Ford, businessmen figure out ways to perfect and mass manufacture these products profitably.”

Additional Resources:

From Spikes to Bombs: The Rise of Eco-Terrorism
By Sean P. Eagan

Eco-Terrorism’s War on Man
By Onkar Ghate
January 25, 2006

House Testimony of Domestic Terrorism Section Chief James F. Jarboe
February 12, 2002

Senate Testimony of FBI Deputy Assistant Director John E. Lewis
May 18, 2004

Whatever Happened to “Eco-Terrorism”?
By Lauren Kirchner
January 26, 2015


Ecoterror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature
By Ron Arnold

Eco-Terrorism & Eco-Extremism Against Agriculture
By Joseph A. Miller and R. M. Miller

Eco-Terrorism: Radical Environmental and Animal Liberation Movements
By Joseph A. Miller and R. M. Miller


© Copyright 2024,