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Earth Liberation Front

In 1998, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an extremist environmentalist group, perpetrated one of the costliest and most sophisticated acts of “ecotage”—economic sabotage in the name of the environment—in U.S. history, thereby becoming a primary focus of the FBI.

ELF was formed in Brighton, England, in 1992, when a few members of Earth First! became frustrated with that group's unwillingness to break the law to achieve its goals. Modeled after Britain's Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ELF is composed of autonomous, anonymous cells that engage in direct actions to cause economic hardship to businesses and institutions that they believe are destroying the environment. Like members of ALF, the members of ELF—who call themselves “elves”—take precautions against harming animals and humans during their actions. To date, they have not physically harmed anyone.

In November 1997, a communiqué announced the presence of ELF in North America, after an attack ...

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