FBI sends bulletin on environmental group



A radical environmental group behind numerous acts of arson and sabotage might be planning a day of action this weekend in cities across the country, including Olympia, according to South Sound and federal authorities.

Earth Liberation Front, which took partial credit in 1998 for fires that destroyed two U.S. Department of Agriculture labs in Thurston County, has reportedly planned activity for Saturday, according to an FBI bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies.

The group, once known primarily for spiking trees to hinder logging operations, has been linked to numerous arsons at lumber companies, auto dealerships and a fire in 2001 that destroyed the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The group says the actions are taken to stop companies from profiting from exploitation of the environment.

Recent fires at a housing development in rural Snohomish County also have been attributed to the group.

Day of 'solidarity'

ELF apparently declared Saturday as an "international day of action and solidarity" in support of Jeff Luers, who is imprisoned for setting fire to several SUVs in 2000 at a Eugene, Ore., auto dealership.

Olympia police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said police are uncertain whether the group planned a civil protest or something destructive.

Olympia was named, along with Eugene, San Francisco, and cities in Florida, Maine, Kansas and Massachusetts, Bjornstad said.

Bjornstad said he did not know whether there was a connection between the various cities.

Police will inform South Sound auto dealerships and other potential targets to be on the lookout for anything suspicious, Bjornstad said.

ELF, a network of smaller groups that operate anonymously and independently, is considered a major domestic threat by the FBI.

It often releases statements from anonymous sources through a main press office.

A spokesperson for the ELF could not be reached late Thursday.

FBI spokesman Ray Lauer declined to comment on how the agency became aware of ELF's possible plans.

The FBI sent the information to law enforcement agencies as an intelligence bulletin, he said.

"All I can say is we're aware of it, but we can't comment."



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