FBI offers reward for Vail ecoterrorism suspects | AspenTimes.com

FBI offers reward for Vail ecoterrorism suspects

Matthew Daly
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON ” The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of four people accused of sabotage attacks in five Western states ” including a 1998 firebombing at a Colorado ski resort that caused $12 million in damage.

All four are believed to be members of a radical environmental group known as “The Family” that is blamed for a series of arson attacks, vandalism and other crimes in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Colorado from 1996 to 2001.

The FBI identified them as Josephine Sunshine Overaker, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, Justin Franchi Solondz and Rebecca Rubin.

All are believed to be living outside the United States.

The 1998 firebombing at a Vail, Colo., ski resort is considered one of the most devastating ecoterrorism attacks in U.S. history. The group is also suspected in a 2001 ecoterror arson of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

The incidents were among at least 25 criminal actions by members of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front that resulted in more than $80 million in damages, officials said.

“These individuals are terrorists. Regardless of their political or social message, their actions were criminal and violated federal laws,” said Michael Ward, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

A total of 17 people have been indicted on ecoterrorism charges related to actions by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, Ward said. Thirteen have been convicted.

A statement Wednesday bearing the name of the North American Earth Liberation Front press office called the reward offer hypocritical.

“During the last 10 years, the federal government has wasted countless resources on its ‘Operation Backfire’ campaign aimed at demonizing those who are protecting the planet,” said Lisa Nesbitt, a spokeswoman for the group. “Instead of tracking and prosecuting nonviolent eco-defenders, why isn’t the federal government locking up the real ecoterrorists, the CEOs of corporations who are inflicting violence and destruction on the environment every day?”

The FBI said Solondz, 29, may be in Canada, Europe or Asia; Dibee, 31, in Syria; and Rubin, 35, in Canada.

Overaker, whose age is listed as 34 or 37, was born in Canada and may be living there, officials said.

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