- The Washington Times - Friday, November 23, 2001

Our home-grown terrorists haven't slowed down just because we are at war with Osama bin Laden and his followers.

The Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front have committed at least five acts of sabotage over the past few months. Firebombing seems to be a preferred method of disruption. The current spree started with an attack on a McDonald's restaurant in Arizona. That's pretty close to attacking the flag and apple pie. I've been in restaurants that should be attacked, but McDonald's is not one of them.

These terrorists even have a so-called spokesman, David Barbarash, who was a former ALF activist and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He would like us to believe the extremist groups send him anonymous communiques when they want to brag about one of their terrorist acts. It's a lot like the president's press secretary claiming he has no involvement with government activities and is only there to keep us posted. Mr. Barbarash, a former activist, admits he is in favor of the group's acts and only quit after he was caught releasing cats used for medical research.

The groups claim they are not terrorists because their aim is not to harm people but rather to protect animals and the environment. Yet they target fast-food restaurants, research laboratories, logging operations and fur farms. I can't imagine firebombing is good for the environment or that releasing animals who must then fend for themselves is considered compassionate. These extremists should be hunted down and treated the same as any terrorist from the Middle East.

A former ELF spokesman has refused to cooperate with a House subcommittee investigating ecoterrorism. He just recently turned his duties over to Mr. Barbarash. It would seem that a man who has been convicted of an ecoterrorism crime and subsequently becomes a spokesman for both groups has got to be considered a high-level member of the organization and, as such, should be monitored very closely if not prosecuted.

Where is the outrage from our respectable environmental groups? Do we get any tips from the Sierra Club or the Greenpeace people concerning former disgruntled members who may have struck out on their own? After all, firebombing ski resorts isn't going to generate much sympathy for any environmental group. The public doesn't know the difference between one of our tree-hugging environmental zealots and an environmental terrorist when they read about a firebombing.

I'm sure the FBI has its hands full right now, but these groups need to be brought down. Mr. Barbarash tells us the September 11 event doesn't generate any sympathy with either group. When these people are caught and prosecuted, I hope they will end up getting more time than the four months Mr. Barbarash served. Terrorism should be treated more harshly than a run-of-the-mill felony. Now that we have seen what pain terrorism can inflict on a country, perhaps we can make the punishment fit the crime.

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