Eleven people were indicted in a series of arsons, claimed by the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, in five Western states including Colorado, the Justice Department said Friday.
The 65-count indictment said the suspects are responsible for 17 incidents in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming
, including sabotaging a high-tension power line, in a conspiracy that dates back to 1996. The indictment was returned Thursday by a federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., and unsealed Friday.
"The indictment tells a story of four-and-a-half years of arson, vandalism, violence and destruction claimed to have been executed on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front or Earth Liberation Front, extremist movements known to support acts of domestic terrorism," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference Friday. Read Prepared Remarks
Appearing with Gonzales, FBI Director Robert Mueller declared, "Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the motive."
"There is a clear difference between constitutionally protected advocacy ... and violent criminal activity," Mueller added.
"It is one thing to write concerned letters or to hold peaceful demonstrations," Mueller said. "It is another thing entirely to construct and use improvised explosives to harass and intimidate victims by destroying property and to cause millions of dollars in losses by acts or threats of violence."
Eight defendants have been arrested. Three people remain at large, and are believed to be outside the United States, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
In Eugene, two defendants, Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, 39, and Suzanne Nicole "India" Savoie, 28, were both ordered held without bail, pending further hearings.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Eugene accused Paul, a firefighter, of setting firebombs that burned down a horse slaughterhouse in 1997. The ALF claimed responsibility for that fire, which caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
Savoie, who works in a group home for the developmentally disabled, is accused of serving as a lookout for a fire in 2001 that destroyed offices of a lumber mill. The ELF claimed responsibility for that fire.
The other defendants are Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey, Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker, Rebecca Rubin, Darren Todd Thurston and Kevin Tubbs.
Dibee, Overaker and Rubin have not been arrested. The other six were arrested in December.
Using improvised incendiary devices made from milk jugs, petroleum products and homemade timers, they carried out attacks between 1996 and 2001, the indictment alleged. Targets included the Two Elks ski lodge at Vail, U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wild horse facilities, lumber companies, meat processing companies and the power line, the indictment said.
The 1998 fire at Vail caused $12 million damage. The lodge was rebuilt.
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