Thursday, July 29, 2010

American Terrorist Update

We haven’t been hearing much about ‘eco-terrorists’ lately, but there is an interesting article over on about the arrest last week of an accused fire bomber thought to be a member of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The accused is suspected in the firebombing of a leather factory, a store selling sheepskin products and a restaurant this year. Scott Stewart provides a very nice intelligence update on the group. Scott notes that when the suspect was arrested he had in his possession a copy of the ALF book “The Declaration of War: Killing People to Save the Animals and the Environment.” Scott’s analysis uses this fact and the increasing physical separation of the violent activists from the more mainstream members of the animal rights community to argue that we can expect increasingly violent attacks on facilities and the escalation to direct attacks on people. The Stratfor article does not suggest potential targets, but it doesn’t take an extensive intelligence background to make the leap that any kind of facility linked to action against animals, or that uses animal byproducts in making products, or produces products that are used to kill animals could easily make it to the ALF target list. Any number of chemical facilities, high-risk or otherwise could certainly fit one or more of those target categories. This is one aspect of the CFATS regulations that is frequently overlooked. Congress was concerned with attacks on chemical facilities that would essentially be attacks on the surrounding communities with the facility becoming the weapon for the attack. From a national perspective this is certainly a sound policy definition. From the aspect of security at any given chemical facility, it is certainly a method of identifying one particular type of terrorist risk. That certainly does not mean that facilities that did not make the DHS-ISCD ‘high-risk facility’ list can ignore the possibility of terrorist attack. Smaller, less protected facilities (softer targets) that fit into some target category for a ‘fringe’ radical group may actually be at a higher risk for actually being attacked than would one of the 6,000 facilities covered by CFATS. It wouldn’t have the overarching affect of an attack on a major chlorine production facility, but it would certainly be significant to that facility, its employees and the surrounding community. Facilities that think that they might be on a target list for a domestic terrorist group like ALF should contact their local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for specific information on their potential risk status.

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