Prepared Remarks for Attorney General Alberto R.

Gonzales at the Operation Backfire Press Conference
January 20, 2006
Good afternoon. I am joined by FBI Director Robert Mueller, ATF Director Carl Truscott, and Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher from the Criminal Division. Yesterday, a grand jury in the District of Oregon returned an indictment charging eleven members of a Portland-based cell of animal rights and environmental extremists for their roles in a pattern of domestic terrorism activities. The 65 count indictment includes numerous charges of arson and attempted arson, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit arson, use and possession of a destructive device, and destruction of an energy facility. The indictment tells a story of four-and-a-half years of arson, vandalism, violence, and destruction claimed to have been executed on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front or Earth Liberation Front – extremist movements known to support acts of domestic terrorism. Specifically, the indictment alleges that a group of defendants – who referred to themselves as “the family” – worked together with extensive planning to influence the conduct of government and private businesses through the use of coordinated force, violence, sabotage, intimidation, and coercion. On a number of occasions, they constructed incendiary devices made from milk jugs or plastic buckets, petroleum products, and delayed timers…and then used them to destroy buildings, vehicles, and other targets chosen to harm the government, disrupt the public, and strike at the economic well-being of state governments and private businesses. This cell was responsible for more than fifteen incidents across five states, a wellcoordinated series of violent attacks that included arsons or attempted arsons at U.S.

Forest Service Ranger Stations, animal holding facilities, lumber companies and timber farms, the Vail Ski Resort, and the Eugene, Oregon Police Department. In addition, three of the defendants are charged with destruction of a high tension tower at the Bonneville Power Administration in Bend, Oregon. In many cases, the group publicized the incidents with graffiti, press releases, and communiqués attributing the actions – and the stated reasons for those actions – to the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front terrorist movements. In all, their trail of destruction across the Pacific Northwest and beyond resulted in millions of dollars of property damage. Today’s indictment is a significant step in bringing these terrorists to justice. Six of the defendants were arrested more than a month ago and are currently being detained – including one Canadian citizen ICE found in possession of a forged Green Card and Social Security Card. Two more were arrested this week on criminal complaints charging them with arsons mentioned in this indictment. And three others are believed to be outside the country. We’re working hard with a number of partners to find these individuals and bring them to justice here in the United States. As this – and all – criminal indictments are not evidence of guilt, the defendants named in this indictment are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The investigation, arrests, and indictments in this case are the result of widespread cooperation and coordination throughout the law enforcement community. I’d like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon and the many prosecutors and investigators from a host of law enforcement agencies at every level for their work on this case – and their continued determination to help protect Americans from the threat of terrorism – both foreign and domestic. Thank you. ###