Earth Liberation Front

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The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is a loosely-knit terrist (friendly term) or ecoterrorist (unfriendly term) organization that, according to the ELF, "uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment" [1], mainly in the United States and Canada.

Their techniques involve destruction of property that they believe is being used to hurt animals or the environment via arson or other means, and the release of animals from research facilities. This is also called ecotage.

The ELF started in 1977 in Santa Cruz, California. At that time, the group's name was "Environmental Life Force." The founder of ELF was arrested at his home in Santa Cruz on November 22, 1977. The original ELF disbanded in 1978. Later, in the 1980s the British department of Earth First decided to stop using ecotage techniques and the current ELF was formed. It copied the ELF acronym which now stands for the Earth Liberation Front.

The ELF has been classified as the #1 domestic terrorist group by the FBI [2]. Supporters and sympathizers of the ELF deny that they are a terrorist group and publicly claim to disavow harming any living being. Opponents however consider it luck more than anything that no one has been killed by the ELF's arson. [3]—the issue is controversial.

The current group's first claimed action was in 1997; followed in 1998 by an arson attack on the Vail Mountain ski resort in Vail, Colorado. Since then they have claimed responsibility for dozens of destructive actions [4]—32 in 2001 alone [5]— resulting in "$50 million in damages," including one in which they released animals involved in research into Alzheimer's disease and cancer at the University of Minnesota. [6]

On August 1, 2003 a 206-unit condominium being built in San Diego, California was burnt down causing damage in excess of $20 million. A 12 foot banner at the scene read "If you build it, we will burn it," signed, "The E.L.F.s are mad." [7] - sympathizers often refer to themselves as "elfs".

On August 22, 2003 arsonists associated with the group attacked several car dealerships in east suburban Los Angeles, burning down a warehouse and vandalizing several cars. All told, several dozen cars were damaged or destroyed causing over a million dollars in damages, most of them SUVs or Hummers (which were probably targeted due to their lower than average fuel efficiency). [8] On September 12, 2003, Federal agents arrested Pomona, California resident Joshua Thomas Connole in their investigation of this incident [9]. Apparently, the FBI profiled Connole based on his anti-war protest activities. [10] He was soon released due to lack of evidence. [11]

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