Earth Liberation Front

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF), also known as "Elves" or "The Elves", is the collective name for autonomous individuals or covert cells who, according to the ELF Press Office, use "economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment".

The ELF was classified as the top "domestic terror" threat in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2001, and its members classified as eco-terrorists. Despite the lack of deaths from ELF attacks, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism has said, "I think we're lucky. Once you set one of these fires they can go way out of control."

On Columbus Day 1996, activists spraypainted "504 years of genocide" and "ELF" on the walls of a public relations office, as well as a McDonald's restaurant in Oregon, the actions were the very first by the ELF in the United States. The same restaurant then had its locks glued and spraypainted again, but this time in support of the British McLibel Two, two activists who had distributed anti-McDonald's leaflets. The next day, it was reported that another two McDonald's restaurants, again in Oregon, had their locks glued by ELF activists. The only other reported action of the year was on Christmas Day, when a fur farm was raided in Michigan and 150 mink released into the wild by the Great Lakes ELF.

The ELF gained state attention in the state of Oregon in 1996 when they burned down the Oakridge Ranger Station. The ELF gained national attention for a series of actions which earned them the label of eco-terrorists, and one of the top domestic terror threats in the United States.

On May 21, a fire destroyed laboratories, offices, and archives at the Center for Urban Horticulture, University of Washington, causing a total of $7 million in damages. The arson destroyed 20 years of research and plant and book collections. The ELF claimed responsibility based upon the incorrect belief that the University was involved in genetic engineering of poplar trees. No genetic engineering was being conducted. In the wake of the attack, an FBI spokeswoman in Portland, Oregon said "I don't think there's any doubt the ELF is upping the ante".

2003, A New Jersey man, who was later arrested, set fire to the McDonald's corporate logo on the roof of a McDonald's restaurant near the Space Needle. In a subsequent voicemail to authorities, the man claimed the action was an "E-L-F … hit" and "there will be more".

One of the latest ELF arsons was reported on the morning of March 3 2008, when explosive devices set fire to four multimillion-dollar homes from the 2007 Seattle Street of Dreams in Echo Lake, Washington, causing $7 million in damage. Authorities described the act as "domestic terrorism" after finding "ELF" spray-painted in red letters, mocking claims that the homes were environmentally friendly: "Built Green? Nope black! McMansions in RCDs r not green. ELF."

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