Keeping the innocent from the ecoterrorist

EMERGENCY911 block-1The world’s attention returned to Paris this weekend; not in response to the November terrorist incidents, but this time to discuss climate change and to determine political strategies on how to save the planet’s fragile environmental infrastructure. Interestingly enough, the decision to host the conference mere days after the Paris incident that claimed 130 lives and injured hundreds more was presented as a show of force and rebuke of the extremist agenda.

The conference, attended by more than 100 countries, international organizations, non-profit interests groups and independent environmental scientists, all recognized the value of the summit and its agenda. But, as in previously held forums, no consensus could be reached on a unified way forward, as individual political agendas from the world’s developed and financially powerful countries took centre stage, the domestic, political and economic interests of each attending country being loudly presented, along with the negative effects of what a unified approach would have on a nation’s continuance as a world power.

Ironically, this very argument regarding how to resolve the world’s environmental emergencies has also been an agenda item of groups known as “ecoterrorists”.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines “ecoterrorism as the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.

The history behind ecoterrorism suggests that it has its roots in radical environmentalism movements that gained popularity during the 1960s. It is thought that ideas that arose from radical environmentalism, described by international law enforcement agencies as based on the belief that capitalism, patriarchal society, and the Judaeo-Christian tradition, were responsible
for the despoliation of nature.

Radical environmentalism is also characterized by beliefs –– sometimes labelled as fanatical opinions –– that suggest society is responsible for the depletion of the environment. This view, further suggests that if societal behaviour is left unchecked, it will lead to the ultimate complete degradation of the environment.

Therefore ecoterrorism groups fight to preserve their environment; not just for the sake of keeping it pristine, but also to preserve their livelihood.

The FBI investigations into organizations accused of ecoterrorism suggest that they are generally grass-roots organizations, that do not have a hierarchical structure, and typically favour direct action approaches to their goals.

Extreme ecoterrorism activities involve destroying, or threatening to destroy property, and sabotaging any physical plant that has been deemed as being further damaging the planet’s ecology. Many acts of sabotage involve the damage of equipment and unmanned facilities, using arson.

There is the other example of ecoterrorism in which people use violence against people or property for environmental reasons. This type of ecoterrorism infers that groups supporting this particular extreme agenda will fight to preserve their environment, not just for the sake of keeping it pristine, but also to preserve their livelihood, hereby allowing them to continue living their
day-to-day life.

Two examples of these groups are the Earth Liberation Front, founded in 1992, and the Animal Liberation Front, which apparently started in England in 1979. Both groups have been accused of arson on private and public properties. However both groups have said that that it is not their intention to harm people or animals, but only stop further damage to the environment caused by aggressive social and infrastructural expansionists who, according to both groups, are blind to the effects of unrestricted growth of urban development to support global
population growth.

An extreme example of these views was seen in the deliberate starting of fires of luxury homes in an upscale neighbourhood in Seattle, Washington, in 2008. The groups claimed in released statements that housing development as proposed was not green or environmentally friendly as advertised, and therefore needed to be stopped before further environmental damage could be done.

The FBI, as far back as 2001, labelled the Earth Liberation Front as “one of the most active extremist elements in the United States”, and deemed it a “terrorist threat to the United States”.

The Caribbean, according to regional law enforcement agencies, does not have such extreme environmental groups. However, these same regional agencies have all been maintaining a subtle but active overview of any activity that could be construed as ecoterrorism-related.

Terrorism activities are not a new occurrence. The issue of terrorism and its effects on societies date back hundreds of years. However, not every act that has occurred may be viewed as terrorism, if the same act was perpetrated under the guise of guerrilla  warfare, conducted in support of whatever group was identified as the government of the day.

Against this background of assumed allegiance to a government at the time, some of these eventually saw the need
to continue under a new agenda.

Law enforcement suggests that this new anti-establishment behaviour might have occurred through disillusionment as altered government policies and social infrastructural promised rewards were not honoured, thereby supporting the need to take matters into their own hands. However, there is also the widely held societal view that the use of violence to resolve broken promises and agreements only further isolates these once courted borderline groups, who worked with government as a clandestine entity, but now because of their behaviour, are directly in conflict with the new vision of the party in power.

Recently, Japan marked 20 years since members of a shadowy extremist group, described as a cult, released deadly sarin nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway system through remotely controlled devices. The attack was the worst in modern Japanese history, and prompted global concern about terrorist groups obtaining chemical weapons.

The nerve gas killed 13, and left than 6,000 others suffering its effects. Twenty years later, the majority of the victims are still experiencing vision problems
and fatigue.

On September 11, 2001, four commercial jets were deliberately flown into the World Trade Centre, destroying four buildings, and killing over 3,000. The incident is claimed by another extremist group calling itself al-Qaeda. The group’s statement says that its suicide attacks targeted symbolic United States landmarks to further get their message across.

These two single incidents underscore the extent to which an extremist group will go to get its message across. Unfortunately, the issue of preserving human life is not a factor considered during the planning.

In fact, the loss of life and high infrastructural damage are an expected result of these activities. Because in the view of the cynic and the extremist planner, how else can you get people to hear and listen to your point of view unless you destroy public property and kill a few?

Sadly, the answer to this question is not that which you would want to receive.


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