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Woman Long Sought in Largest ‘Eco-Terror’ Case Arrested

By Bill Morlin on November 29, 2012 - 4:07 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, a 39-year-old Canadian who has been sought for a decade in the largest “eco-terrorism” case in United States history, was arrested today by FBI agents after she surrendered in Blaine, Wash.

Rubin, an alleged member of a group that called itself “The Family,” is to be taken to Oregon to face trial federal arson, destructive device and conspiracy charges, federal authorities said in announcing her arrest. She was one of three remaining fugitives in the group, another 10 members of which were sentenced to terms ranging from three to 13 years in 2007. Collectively, the group is accused of 20 acts of arson carried out between 1996 and 2001 in five Western states on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

The arrest was the latest development in a federal investigation dubbed “Operation Backfire” that resulted in the largest case ever brought against environmental extremists. A grand jury indictment alleges the group sought to “influence and affect the conduct of government, private business and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means.”

The alleged leader of The Family, William C. Rodgers, committed suicide in a jail in Arizona after being indicted in 2006. Along with another member of The Family, Rodgers is believed to have been the author of the ALF manual, Setting Fires With Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide.

Rebecca Rubin specifically is charged with participating in a Nov. 30, 1997, arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County near Burns, Ore., and a Dec. 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford, Ore.

A companion indictment in Colorado charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the Oct. 19, 1998, fires that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Eagle County, Colorado. At the time, the attack in Vail, which caused $12 million in damage, was the costliest and most dramatic eco-terrorist attack in American history.

A third indictment filed in the Eastern District of California charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in the Oct.15, 2001, fire at the BLM Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif.

In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from 37 to156 months after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson.

With Rubin’s surrender, two final defendants are now being sought. Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker remain at large as international fugitives, federal authorities say.

  • Patricia

    If Right-Wing Violence Is Up 400%, Why Is the FBI Targeting Environmentalists?

    In your last statement to me, Arian, you specifically mention “Stromfront”. I never once stated “Stormfront”. I wont make accusations, assertions, or assumptions about your comment, but your comment did cause red flags to fly all around my thoughts on that one. Anywho – if you feel inclined to review, there is an FBI report in the link above.

  • Erika

    Gerald, the first fundamental flaw in your argument is that arson is always and firebombing is always illegal because it is extremely dangerous regardless of motive. Arson is also universally considered a violent crime because it creates terror and fear (and contrary to your claim that “no humans were harmed here” the creation of terror and fear does create significant psychological harm).

    The even more fundamental flaw in your argument is that like the ELF the KKK believed that they were justified in their bombing and burning attacks to defend their ideology. That the ELF “supports” a worthy cause (preservation of natural wilderness land, better treatment of animals) does not change that their motive is to use terrorism to get their goals. That the ELF tries to avoid human causulties does not alter the fact that arson is always dangerous and their motive is to use terror – the fact is that if someone is running around blowing up and burning unoccupied structures still creates terror and fear.

    Thus you cannot justify the actions of the ELF without also justifying the actions of the KKK – ultimately both groups have the exact same motive – to use force and terror to get their way and achieve their political goals. You also cannot say that the ELF is acceptable without saying it is acceptable to have some people running around burning structures they believe are empty for kicks. Quite simple, what you forget is that to the KKK perserving white supremacy was just as morally obligated as perserving old growth forests is to the ELF.

    Who decides what is a sufficiently right and just cause to justify violent criminal attacks? If you say that Gerald or the ELF can decide what is a sufficiently worthy cause to justify violence than every other person in the same world also must have that same ability. That is a recipe for either dictatorship or anarchy and sheer chaos and likely extinction of the species. Either way, sweetie i have a feeling that you wouldn’t like the result.

    That you fail to understand the simple point that might does not make right and that left wing terrorism is just as adhorrent – and almost without exception ultimately counterproductive – as right wing terrorism (not to mention the fact that you are constantly trying to deny the fact arson and firebombing always creates an extremely high risk of human death) suggests that you are extremely obtuse.

  • Gerald

    “To compare non-violent civil disobedience against an unjust authority enforcing an illegal law to burning and bombing attacks is the heights of stupiditry.”

    Actually, I was comparing a particular form of non-violent civil disobedience, used in separate contexts, to show that a moral judgment on one action does not magically transfer to the other.

    “ELF is no different from the KKK” = reluctance to seriously examine the actual costs, risks and benefits of particular ELF actions.

    For an expert historian, your lack of appreciation of context and motive is stunning.

  • Erika

    Gerald, your argument is severely flawed for reasons which should be readily apparent for everyone who has a reasonable understanding of the history of the civil rights movement.

    first, you have the history totally wrong: a very large number of the civil rights sit ins – in fact, all of the first ones as well as the Freedom Rides and it is quite likely a majority of all sit ins – involved activity that was purely legal and the only illegal activity present was the refusal of a business to serve based upon race. The first civil rights sit ins took place in Illinois in the 1940s which had a state anti-discrimination law – the sit ins were designed to get the state to actually enforce the laws on its books. Many of the other sit ins took place in areas where racial discrimination was already made illegal – for example interstate facilities (see the Freedom Rides as well as sit ins in interstate bus stations). Sit ins continued well after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed outlawing discrimination in public places.

    Therefore, many of the arrests of protesters within the civil rights era were completely unlawful and ultimately were overturned by the courts.

    Second, your morality is frightening in its implication. The sit ins were non-violent protests. What part of the name Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee do you fail to understand? Sit ins were non-violent actions which were often engaged in legal activity such as requesting service at a place of public accomodation which was legally required to serve people regardless of race. Even in areas where places of public accomdation were allowed to legally discriminate (prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964) they were still non-violent protests. The only violence was directed against the protesters.

    Third, you are mangling the history because the ELF does in fact have a Civil Rights Era parallel – but that parallel is the Ku Klux Klan who conducted violent illegal actions such as burning black churches, bombings, and murders.

    Bombings and burning is not non-violent action. That is violent action which poses an extremely high risk of human death. If you justify the ELF burning property because you agree with the cause, you justify anyone burning property for a cause. In fact, you ultimately justify anyone burning property for any reason or no reason at all. And if arson is okay than murder for a “good cause” is also perfectly acceptable.

    That simple fact is what you fail to understand! To compare non-violent civil disobedience against an unjust authority enforcing an illegal law to burning and bombing attacks is the heights of stupiditry.

    You also fail to understand that the risk of death of a bombing attack or especially a bombing attack is severe – you can pretend it is not the case all you want, but you are justifying a firebomb attack that accidentially kills a guard or someone working late just as much.

    You are right that the ELF is like an actor in the Civil Rights Era – you just got it wrong – the ELF is no different from the KKK. In the abortion debate the ELF is no different from the people who blow up abortion clinics or shoot abortion doctors. Burning and other violent actions against persons are never acceptabl – it is a dangerous act which if undertaking for a political cause has always met every rational definition of terrorism.

    Quite simply you have no concept of history or morality.

  • Gerald

    Erika, let me help resolve your equivocations:

    “The hypocracy which y’all display is overwhelming. All you are doing is exercising selective morality whereby all laws are optional. Once you justify violence to suit a cause you care about you are justifying violence for everyone and calling for pure mayhem.”

    There is no hypocrisy in supporting a sit-in at a lunch counter to protest segregation, but denouncing a sit-in at a health clinic to protest abortion. Why? Selective morality! Racism = WRONG. Access to reproductive health services = RIGHT.

    Unlawful acts are sometimes justified and morality is inherently selective.

    ALF would argue that liberating animals from certain death, and sending a message to those that systematically kill for profit, justifies risks to office plants, fish, mice, cockroaches, flies, for which you humorously shed crocodile tears.

    It’s reasonable to argue that arson creates so many risks that it doesn’t justify protecting captive animals or old growth forest. But it’s bonkers to conflate civil disobedience with mindless destruction or theft.

  • DDB9000

    Okay…those of you that disagree with these arrests…

    What part of “Wild Horse and Burro Facility” don’t you understand? Yes, I know that no horses or burros were killed in the fires, but what if by accident they were?

    I don’t disagree with the facts that there are many companies raping and pillaging our lands for profit, that there are companies hurting and killing animals, but our side should be better than them.
    We should not do evil just because they have. We do not need to “fight fire with fire”, literally or figuratively. Burning down ski chalets will essentially do nothing because insurance will likely pay for them to be rebuilt.
    And what have you done? – nothing, except waste precious resouces – the water used by firefighters fighting the blazes (and possibly risking their lives). The gasoline used to power the vehicles cleaning up the debris. The additional wood and other materials used to rebuild the buildings. Not to mention small animals that may have been killed in the fires. You would have wasted less, and damaged the environment less by simply doing nothing!

    A terrorist is a terrorist, whether on the right or left. Period.

  • Erika

    i assume that everyone trying to justify arson and property damage because “nobody” was hurt realizes the following:

    first, saying that no one was hurt focuses only on humans – i thought the environemntalists were supposed to respect all life (human and animal). It is almost undoutable that at least some animal and plant life perished during the fires set by the ELF and ALF. Most offices will have plantlife and many have animals such as fish which people like and such as mice, cockroaches, flies, etc. which people do not like. It is without a doubt that fire attacks on offices even if conducted in teh middle of night when no one is there will result in the loss of some sort of life. It seems that the selective morality displayed here is even more severe than i realized.

    Second, you still have the fact that fire attacks pose a huge risk of losing control – fire is dangerous and difficult to control and if it gets loose will kill people and animals. That is without a doubt. The fact remains that the only reason why those idiots have never been documented at killing anything is because of sheer luck and applying the same “only humans count” attitute that you pretend to decry.

    Third, would you be so ready to say “its only property” if someone torched your house when you weren’t home or smashed up your car? OR would you be upset? What if your pet dog was trapped inside and died during the fire? WOuld that be okay because your dog was just your property? What if the firebomber wanted to torch the logging company’s executive’s house next door but torched your house by mistake – is it okay because it was protecting the environment? Or would you be mad because someone even for a cause you approved of destroyed your property?

    The hypocracy which y’all display is overwhelming. All you are doing is exercising selective morality whereby all laws are optional. Once you justify violence to suit a cause you care about you are justifying violence for everyone and calling for pure mayhem.

    Unless you think its fine for the KKK to firebomb black churches on days when there ins’t a service its not okay for these ELF idiots to firebomb a logging company’s headquarters becuase it is the exact same thing. In fact, there is really no difference between torching an office building for a “cause” and torching an office building for the thrill of seeing something burn.

    Burning someone else’s property for a cause is also the exact same thing as stealing someone’s property. Unless you think it is fine for someoneto break into your house and steal your property to fund whatever cause they have you are a hypocrite in thinking its okay to burn someone else’s property for a cause or for any reason at all.. There is no difference between the ELF people setting fire to a building or a crackhead breaking into my house to steal my platium charm bracelet with different shark species and sea turtles.

    Burning or destroying someone else’s property for a cause is not acceptable. Putting the lives of people and animals at severe risk of death through fire for a cause is not acceptable.

    What you are justifying is not animal’s rights (animals have undoubtably been harmed in these idio’s’ attacks) – it is anarchy, chaos, and mayhem and a notion that might makes right.