Eco-Terrorism? Countering Dominant Narratives of Securitisation: a Critical, Quantitative History of the Earth Liberation Front (1996-2009)

Michael Loadenthal


The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has carried out acts of political violence and ‘economic sabotage’ characterized by a pattern of behaviour reflecting tactical and targeting selections, communications strategies, and geographic location. The movement’s attacks typically focus on the destruction of property located in ‘soft targets’ associated with commercial and residential construction, the automotive industry, and a variety of local, national and multinational business interests. These sites are routinely targeted through a variety of means ranging from graffiti to sabotage to arson. Geographically, the movement has focused its attacks in the United States and Mexico, and, to a limited extent, countries on the European, South American and Australian continents. The findings presented in this article were developed through a statistical analysis of the movement’s attack history as presented through its above-ground support network. This is discussed in critical contrast to assertions about the movement’s alleged terrorist behaviour found in most academic and government literature. This study seeks to present an incident-based historical analysis of the ELF that is not situated within a logic of securitization. In doing so, it challenges traditional scholarship based on statistical findings.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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