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In US, a rise of violent environmental tactics

Arson and death threats have followed ecoterrorists' call for more use of force.

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A war on terrorism is escalating in the United States, but it's one that has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

This form of violence – which the FBI says is the most serious type of domestic terrorism in the country today – involves radical environmentalists and animal-rights activists, some of whom now vow that they "will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice...."

Civil disobedience and property damage have long been the tools of such groups. Blockading log trucks, tree-sitting, "liberating" animals used for fashion or research, acts of vandalism, and even arson are part of their arsenal. But almost without exception, the line has been drawn against injuring or killing people.

That appears to be changing.

Radical groups formed in England with a record of physically attacking people perceived to be their enemies have begun operating in Canada and the United States. Arson is becoming a more common tool, threatening employees of torched buildings. Personal harassment amounting to psychological violence has been directed against the family members of those accused of harming animals or the environment. And the rhetoric from such groups increasingly warns of personal violence.

"The evidence is indisputable that they're turning more and more to violence," says Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly publication of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors political extremism and domestic terrorism. "When you start burning buildings it just seems to me obvious that, at some point, some night watchman is going to get burned up."

The threats are even more direct.


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