The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is also a domestic terrorist organization for the same reason, although it also maintains affiliations outside the U.S. (ELF, 2009). Like the AOG, the ELF preaches a message that would be perfectly legal if it were pursued strictly by nonviolent, legal means. Specifically, the ELF is dedicated to the economic sabotage of entities that, according to their definitions, are engaged in destroying the planet's environment and its biological organisms. The group was originally founded in England in 1992 and substantially modeled after the structure and organization of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) dedicated to the rescue of animals from laboratories and other institutions they believe are exploiting animals for profit.
More importantly, the ELF mirrors the decentralized, leaderless organizational structure of the ALF as a means of avoiding apprehension and infiltration by law enforcement. Specifically, both organizations consist of loose affiliations of otherwise unconnected independent organizations and even solitary individuals who conduct their own independent operations without direction or direct assistance from the organization (ATI, 2009). Their tactics include arson, and numerous other forms of so-called "ecoterrorism" designed to attack the profitability of any activity the organization considers harmful to the environment or to any of its living creatures inhabiting it.
Their guerilla tactics have involved arson against SUV manufacturers under the premise that SUVs are more harmful to the environment than regular automobiles and other forms of sabotaging institutions and organizations, such as the extensive vandalizing of housing developments under construction and the use of cyberterrorism against businesses. Like the AOG, the ELF maintains beliefs that would be perfectly legal in and of themselves if pursued through legal means instead of through terrorist operations. Because the ELF does use illegal violence against property and financial interests to achieve its goals, it also constitutes a terrorist organization and to the extent it operates in the U.S., a domestic terrorist organization.
Nevertheless and despite qualifying as a terrorist group, the ELF is fundamentally different from the AOG (as well as from both the KKK and the BLA) in one principal way: it is the only organization of the four that does not condone violence against human beings in pursuit of its goals. As part of its propaganda campaign, the ELF specifically publicizes its efforts to make sure that facilities it targets are not occupied, even going to far as to check for pets and other animals before conducting its destructive operations (ELF, 2009).
The definition of terror is broad enough to encompass many different kinds of activities and several different types of philosophical motivations. In the U.S., federal law specifically prohibits certain kinds of non-violent activity such as the harassment of others by virtue of race, religion, and ethnic origin. Therefore, the organized illegal trespass onto private property in connection with the illegal harassment (even if only verbal) of protected classes of individuals qualifies as terrorism under its broadest definition. However, none of the organizations analyzed restrict themselves to mere verbal harassment.
Both the KKK and BLA have long histories of violence and murder against innocent civilians and government agents alike; the AOG also has embraced violence and murder in the pursuit of its goals. The ELF differs from the other three organizations only in that it limits its activities to violence against inanimate structures, facilities, and private property. All four groups qualify as domestic terrorist groups for their participation in violence, whether motivated by unlawful hateful bigotry against individuals of minority race, hatred and violence against the majority race, lawful objectives pursued through violence against individuals, or by lawful objectives pursued through illegal destruction of property without harm to persons.
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