The danger from the terrorists among us
How easily we forget that we are just as vulnerable to attack – perhaps more so in the West – from terrorists who don’t speak in foreign tongues or have religious fervor as their motive.
The arrests last week of three ecoterrorists in California and indictment of 11 more in Oregon are startling reminders that people much closer to our homes than Iraq, Iran or Saudi Arabia are plotting violent, destructive acts in the misguided belief they will further their political causes.
The alleged conspirators in Oregon and California are said to be members of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front – two loose-knit, extremist organizations who have somehow concluded that burning places like Forest Service facilities and timber-company offices is a justifiable means of expressing their concern for plants and animals.
Absurd, yet dangerous.
None of the 17 attacks and $23 million in damage attributed by the FBI to these groups over the past five years actually killed a human being. For that, we guess, we should be thankful.
Yet just how close to home are their targets? One apparently was a research facility operated by the U.S. Forest Service in El Dorado County, according to a report in the Placerville Mountain Democrat. The reason? It was studying genetic alteration of trees.
Although the El Dorado plotters were thwarted, the scenario brings back awful memories of the mid-1990s bombings that nearly killed a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper, an act of personal vengeance in Carson Valley, and threatened the lives of a Forest Service supervisor’s family in Carson City.
International terrorism, as serious as it is, nevertheless has remained far from the Sierra Nevada. Homegrown terrorism makes even less sense and yet lingers on our doorstep.