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The Observer: Police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists

Re-post sorry | 09.11.2008 01:04 | Climate Camp 2008 | Climate Chaos | Repression | Social Struggles

NETCU warns a 'lone maverick' eco-extremist may try to kill large numbers of Britons to help reduce Earth's population by 80 per cent. The Kingsnorth climate camp is affiliated to Earth First! - or so says the Observer.

Police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists
Fear of deadly attack by lone maverick as officers alert major firms to danger of green extremism

Mark Townsend and Nick Denning,
Sunday November 9 2008 00.01 GMT
The Observer, Sunday November 9 2008
Article history
The aftermath of a claimed attack by the Earth Liberation Front on a 4x4 car dealership in California. Photograph: Sarah Reingewirtz / AP

Police have warned of the growing threat of eco-terrorism after revealing they are investigating a group which has supporters who believe that reducing the Earth's population by four-fifths will help to protect the planet.

Officers from a specialist unit dedicated to tackling domestic terrorism are monitoring an eco-movement called Earth First! which has advocates who state that cutting the Earth's population by 80 per cent will ease pressure on other species. Officers are concerned a 'lone maverick' eco-extremist may attempt a terrorist attack aimed at killing large numbers of Britons.

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, which collates intelligence and advice to police forces, has revealed that eco-activists are researching a list of target companies which they believe are major polluters or are exacerbating the threat of climate change.

The unit is currently monitoring blogs and internet traffic connected to a network of UK climate camps and radical environmental movements under the umbrella of Earth First!, which has claimed responsibility for a series of criminal acts in recent months.

A senior source at the unit said it had growing evidence of a threat from eco-activists. 'We have found statements that four-fifths of the human population has to die for other species in the world to survive.

'There are a number of very dedicated individuals out there and they could be dangerous to other people.'

Earth First! says its mission is 'about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth' and advocates 'civil disobedience and monkeywrenching', tactics that include sabotage and disruptive behaviour. The movement has links to US environmental extremists which have waged a campaign of violence in America, including the firebombing of a string of 4x4 car dealerships in California in 2003 and alleged arson attacks on other property.

The anti-extremist unit has already alerted a number of major companies which have been accused of being carbon polluters with advice on how they can withstand being targeted by eco-terrorists. Companies are thought to include airport operator BAA, an international mining conglomerate BHP Billiton and firms connected to UK coal-fired power stations.

'They are doing research of possible targets, looking at shareholders and financiers. For example, they could research an airline and see how many of its aircraft are not environmentally friendly,' said the NETCU source.

Although green extremists have yet to embark on an orchestrated campaign of violence in the UK, officers warn that they may be about to launch a campaign of intimidation and fear aimed at disrupting businesses. 'For some people, if they can justify it in their minds, then it's a noble cause even if it's a criminal action. They haven't started yet, but we believe they will come up with a strategy and tactics,' said the source at the unit, who described the movement as well-funded and organised.

A spate of recent attacks, for which Earth First! supporters have claimed responsibility, has included vandalism of branches of seven German banks such as Deutsche Bank and Allianz AG. The actions were apparently because the banks hold shares in UK Coal, which plans to build new coal-fired power stations.

A statement on the Earth First! website explains the attacks by saying: 'Exploitation of the environment and people by the state and industry go hand in hand. They cannot be separated and both must be attacked. Social war, not climate chaos.'

Another attack hit a quarry in Staffordshire which belongs to Bardon Aggregates, a company hat also owns a controversial quarry at Glensanda on the north-west coast of Scotland. The Scottish quarry is accused of spoiling the Highlands environment. The Earth First! website states: 'We slashed tyres, stripped paint jobs, glued locks and trashed conveyor belts. All the earth movers were hit and many of the cement and aggregate trucks. This action cost us very little but should cost Bardon thousands.'

Among the network of groups under the Earth First! umbrella are various climate camps. Last August police found a stash of knives and weapons beside one such camp in Kent. Protesters, however, said they had nothing to do with the weapons and accused police of launching a 'smear campaign'.

A spokesman for Derby Earth First! said the movement was strictly non-violent, if not always law-abiding. He said: 'If someone does ecological damage we would perhaps break the law and protect the ecology, but the ecology also includes humans.

'We're all about communities. Capitalism is the problem and we want to return to a more sustainable time. But we are not about reducing the population, that is just scaremongering by the police.'

The rise of eco-extremism coincides with the fall of the animal rights activist movement. Police said the animal rights movement was in 'disarray' and that its ringleaders had either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution, adding that its 'critical mass' of hardcore extremists was sufficiently depleted to have halted its effectiveness. Last Thursday a prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was cleared of possessing an explosive substance with intent.

Reports on the Earth First! Journal website, which tells users how to send encrypted emails, reveals connections to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which has been linked to a series of violent attacks in the US. ELF was classified as the top domestic terrorism threat in the US by the FBI in March 2001.

The ELF was founded in 1992 in Brighton by members of the Earth First! movement who wanted to form a breakaway group that would use more extreme tactics.

Re-post sorry


the lowdown on the journos/soldiers

12.11.2008 14:09



Curioser and Curiouser……I’m checking for Nick Denning - co-author with Mark Townsend of yesterday’s hilarous Observer piece on eco -terrorism. He doesn’t appear to have any previous as a journalist. But what’s this?? A piece written by Townsend in Afghanistan in August 2007 where he’s embedded with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Sangin………and sharing a helicopter ride with NICK DENNING - COMMANDER OF 1 PLATOON A COMPANY in the Royal Anglian regiment!!! And less than a year later this Denning is providing intelligence to his mate on The Guardian on eco - terorism!!! Some explanations from The Guardian reqired on this one methinks! Watch this space…………

Also see

Funny & informative.

The Observer/Guardian blog on the subject if you want to post something there is



Hide the following 26 comments


09.11.2008 08:38

For goodness sake what a crock of crap, the police will try anything to stir things up. Who do they pay to come up with this nonsense?

Eco Liberation


09.11.2008 09:20

Not everyone in the ecolical direct action movement is a primo, dumbass police!

Class struggle green anarchist

E-mail him, tell him you are boycotting The Observer

09.11.2008 10:11

"Mark Townsend is Crime, Defence & Legal Affairs Correspondent of The Observer. His awards include British Environmental Journalist of the Year; Press Gazette Specialist of the Year, Press Gazette Young Reporter of the Year (runner up); Reporter of the Year (runner up); Commission for Race Equality Race in the Media Awards category winner; 2007 Foreign Press Association awards (runner up feature writer of the year) for reports from Afghanistan; West Of England young reporter and West of England reporter of the year. He was most recently shortlisted for 2008 David Watt Prize for Afghan dispatches and 2008 Press Gazette for campaign of the year. He is author of Fifty Ways to F**K the Planet"

I would recommend that you are polite anc non agressive as otherwise he will simply delete your e-mail.

This is absolute crap, typical sadly of the Observer which likes to pretend it is non conformist but at the same time it parrots state prooganda uncritically.

E-mail should be

or it might be


Changing times!

09.11.2008 10:17

Fall of the animal rights movement! - Sorry to disappoint the police but a lot of ARA's are joining the climate cause, cus guess what.......... global chaos is killing animals.

The vivisection/chemical and farming industry are some of the worlds biggest earth polluters!


And I see that they have started the hysterical scaremongering in the media about eco activists!

Coping alright without leaders!!

Same old Goebbels Type Propaganda

09.11.2008 10:47

As many readers will probably know this kind of propaganda was used very effectively during the Third Reich to scare so called "Middle-Germany" type people to give justfication for all kinds of oppressive legislation. As you may remember all the outrageous acts committed by German Police, SS and Troops were all legal under German Law.

This kind of scare propaganda type article is a scandal - The Sport paper let alone The Obersver should be ashamed of printing such an article. Especially as The Oberver was instrumental in helping Amnesty International to be launched in 1961. What's happened since then? A gradual lurch towards articles and propaganda which does not deserve to be called journalism. It is muck raking - sucking up to undemocratic and oppressive State system where normal debate and discourse is frowned on, stamped out and certainly not aired through any mass media that I know of.

This kind of evidence of propaganda gives a real shot in the arm for the Independent Media outlets (of which Indymedia is one important part). Carry on the good work Indymedia -
but we need more outlets - lets get the truth out there for all our sakes.

Harmony & Understanding

Budgeting time.

09.11.2008 10:52

I would be more worried about the threat from growing elements within the police 'service' that seem hell bent on wrecking the nations economy. They have been 'on the rise' for sometime and are a worry to us all.

They tend to spend a lot of time feeding exclusive news stories to gullible journalists, or journalists who are trying to keep their tally of awards up. The 'news' stories appear in print and are then used by 'factions' withing the wider police community to justify increased budgets from the taxpayer, to fund policing of so-called extremism. Many of these renegade officers act on their own initiative and can be rewarded for their actions in the form of promotion and bonuses.

They are a growing threat not just to individual members of the public but to the long-term prosperity of the nation. Much of the funding they receive is completely wasted and the nation can precious afford this during the current climate. Don't you know there's a bloody war on!


Same old stuff

09.11.2008 11:17

What a load of old bo***ks, the police know there is no fall in AR people, just more people joining the cause due to the appalling behaviour rying to prevent freedom of speech and expression by the Police regarding anything to do with animal rights. The 'ringleaders' are in prison!! Some good and determined people maybe in prison but they will be out and return with even more vigour than before and if the police think they have the 'ringleasders' they have no idea at all what animal rights is about, we do not have 'leaders' we have determined,inteligent and compassionate people who have minds of their own and who together and independently go about exposing wrong doings and torture of innocent beings. Public opinion is massively in favour of many issues i.e. 76% against hunting etc. To try to marginalise those of us who have the courage to stand out against such cruelty is, as a prevous poster described, the tactics used in a dictatorship. The erosion of civil liberties and the unjust treatment of those who expose wrong doings is nothing new. If only the 'out of control' police would do their job in the way they should (and try not to kill innocent men on the tube), focus their activities on those who are the real criminals, this country would not be in the state it is. The word 'Terrorist' is now used against anyone who has an opinion against the state or those capitalists who make money from cruelty, i.e. biotech, factory farmers etc. whilst the real terrorists merrily go about their business. Makes you proud of your country doesn't it??


anarchist-primitivism is nothing to do with mass murder

09.11.2008 11:41

primitivism is anti-authoritarian and rejects such tactics. the end does not justify the means

this article is a typical media attack against the radical environmental movement, i remember articles like this back in the 90's when there was a strong interest in our activity.

for an end to sectarianism.


NETCU are total scum

09.11.2008 11:58

NETCU are total scum. They have been harassing the animal rights movement for several years. They were secretly recorded (by themselves, accidently!) saying they would wage a dirty war against the SPEAK campaign against the Oxford animal lab, and Mel Broughton in particular.

This is probably just empire-building on their part, they would like be a massive department of thought police, cracking down hard on anyone who disagrees with the government.

Incidents that would previously have been small charges or not even illegal are now upgraded to police-state type changes like conspiracy and blackmail.

Check out the NETCUwatch website that monitors their activities while you can, - I'm sure they will take it down before long. Mirror the contents if you can:



09.11.2008 13:13

We are utterly shocked by Pearl and Cos continued lies. This article reads as though anyone who cares about the destruction of the Earth is going to go around killing people! Our answer is simply this; stop the oppression of millions of women, give all women full control over their fertility, stop preventable childhood diseases and children dying simply because they are poor, stop outright the undermining of women's confidence in breastfeeding by the parisitic baby milk companies, slash childhood mortality and the population will plummet over a couple of generations. Very few people seem to want lots of children when the elements of patriachal bollocks, poverty, societal expectation and the probability of death for most children are all taken out of the equation. In fact it is often noted with alarm that here in the West many women have decided not to bother having children at all.
Simply NETCU are scaremongering when really Earth First! have never ever advocated violence. It is the essence of capitalism which needs more and more people to increase more and more profit which has led to mass starvation, war and untold misery. It is NETCU who continue to protect and endorse any filthy company who make a profit regardles of how they make it. We say look after those alive now not hypothetical beings of the future which do not existand cannot suffer unlike a child who has less to eat when yet more children arrive in the family.

Netcu Watch

sloppy journalism peddling state agenda

09.11.2008 14:35

What rubbish journalism - completely swallowing NETCU's shit-stirring (which is just justification for their continued existence & budgets) and then doing really sloppy so-called journalism. That list of awards just either shows how vapid that field is, or that Mark Townsend and Nick Denning have had some kind of mental breakdown.

I'm sure somewhere on the internet there must be an anti-population or anti-human claim about cutting population by 80%, but it's a) appalling logic & silly b) dodgy and not something that would be claimed by an Earth First!er.

The evidence for a maverick large-scale terrorist attack is non-existent & absurd too.

The journalists blur stuff about EF! from different countries, where it is, er, different.

Their links & targets bit is based on fantasy.

They confuse violence and disruption - a bit different if you think about it for longer than your back-hander.

Well-funded!!!! If only....

And just because someone's posted something on the EF! Action Reports website, doesn't mean that they are EF! supporters or indeed that those actions are organised by EF! - they don't bother reading, journalists, do they!

good grief
- Homepage:


09.11.2008 14:48

Like I say, it is all very well putting the counter arguments on indymedia, they are valid. However, without putting them across to the guy who wrote this piece they will just bounce around in our activist echo chamber.

This guy is "environmental journalist of the year" so he obviously fancies himself as a bit of a greenie. Why not ask him how he squares his environmentalism with this tarring of environmental activists? Maybe by reminding him of this contradiction he might be a bit less gullible or stupid the next time.

Just a thought.


Thanks to Sim1

09.11.2008 17:13

Thanks for Sim1 pointing out that our comments be directed straight at the "journalist" concerned, which I have already done earlier today.

Keep the pressure up on these kinds of writers - suggest to them to actually speak to activists so that maybe they can begin to understand what is really going on.

Harmony & Understanding

Right is Wrong - Wrong is Right.

09.11.2008 18:39

This from the National Extremism and Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) site. It apparently spells out what constitutes 'extremism':

* cause real fear, distress and physical injury and put lives at risk
* hinder essential health advances
* damage economic well being; threaten inward investment and jobs
* undermine a democratic way of life that supports legitimate activity and the legal process.

Can anybody spot how the police themselves can and have been guilty of all of these acts of extremism.

Here's your starter for ten.

First Mr Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man who the police officers involved in his death claimed was a terrorist, who was in the midst of threatening the lives of potentially hundreds of people and who gave the police officers involved reason to kill him in one of the most flagrant acts of barbarism yet seen on British soil. As a result of this act the police caused real fear, distress and physical injury and put his and other lives at risk.

Second by preventing and disrupting animal rights activists the police have allowed corporations to continue to develop products and medicines which cause injury, death and long-term disability in patients using the NHS service. Companies who continue to force the idea that medical product testing on animals is the only way to test these products, alongside commercial product testing which has no discernable benefit to this or any other community. Companies which continue to place product testing in the context of profit based testing. By interfering with the relationship between animal rights activists and vivisectionists, the police hinder essential health advances.

Three by continuing to allow quasi police forces within police forces to operate, COBRA, NETCU, FIT, SOCA, TOCU within the law enforcement community the public at large are continually worried, alarmed and harrassed and reduced to a state of fear while officers employed within these organisations are continually encouraged to seek higher bonuses and funding from the public purse. In addition, these quasi organisations bet on the stock market with public funds to increase capital and operate as though a business, not a public body, in order to hide from public accountability (transparency) which then causes the public purse to be further drained as and when stock markets go down. This amounts to undermining the economic well-being and threatening inward investment in the UK and undermines job creation within the domestic economy.

And finally, by continuing to prevent, disrupt and harrass legitimate protest within a democratic society the police actively undermine the idea that government can and should be held to account by its people. This is a fundamental attack on not only the nations security, but the security of future generations to come. By permiting and encouraging hostile views to those who protest, the police show contempt for not only the nations best interests but to our history. Many of the rights, freedoms and liberties we enjoy were not given to us by government, but were won by the people at the expense of government. By de-legitamising this relationship between government and the people, the police encourage individuals to act in their own self-interest while leaving those who are vulnerable to fend for themselves, a fundamentally American approach and one that causes horrendous inequity within society as a whole. This is disloyal, unpatriotic and treachorous. In addition it undermines a democratic way of life that supports legitimate activity and the legal process.

Above all, NETCU constitutes a political model of policing which is the logical conclusion of years of political bending of law enforcement to the political will of the current regime and the financial interests of corporations that operate withing the worldwide globalism 'movement' here in the UK and, by association, abroad. It is undemocratic, threatening, abusive, causes fear and alarm and disrupts the normal working of our democracy such that is has difficulty functioning.

This is extremism....corporate extremism.

Right is wrong - Wrong is right.


Will you NETCU...

09.11.2008 19:08

Now the subject of population control is a very complex one and should be debated openly and without fear of being branded a terrorist if one holds a certain viewpoint. NETCU have now stated that anyone who is in favour of reducing the population is possibly a dangerous fanatic who might pose a threat to normal folk. Maybe they will arrest Prince Phillip who has often called for everyone to stop breeding (apart from his family of course) or Melanie Phillips who has applauded the Chinese one child policy (despite the gross human rights violations). Well you can't be too careful eh Superintendant Pearl? Or maybe we could help by performing a citizens arrest....

Lynn Sawyer

Good point

09.11.2008 20:41

"This from the National Extremism and Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) site. It apparently spells out what constitutes 'extremism':
* cause real fear, distress and physical injury and put lives at risk
* hinder essential health advances
* damage economic well being; threaten inward investment and jobs
* undermine a democratic way of life that supports legitimate activity and the legal process.
Can anybody spot how the police themselves can and have been guilty of all of these acts of extremism."

Good point. Plus two of those statements apply to the actions of some UK banks and financial institutions who have gambled away savers money, went bust and had to be bailed out by the government. Jobs, inward investment and the country's economic well being has been SEVERELY damaged in acts that, to use statist terminology, could be described as 'economic terrorism'. I certainly know a good many people who have been caused very real fear and distress by it.

But very odd. We don't see many bank chief execs being prosecuted for extremism. In fact the only punishment has been that two have lost their jobs. Clearly, it's seen as permissible to be as "extreme" as you like as long as it statist extremism (illegally invading other countries and killing hundreds of thousands) or corporatist extremism (stealing billions)!


All aboard the gravy train.... next stop promotion

09.11.2008 21:00

This is because NETCU have for the last couple of years stated they need more money to fight AR but will soon have all the ringleaders in prison. Their funding ends in December and now they can't use the same old "we need to combat AR" because they have already told their bosses that they HAVE beaten AR. So to continue the nice trips (any idea how much money they make on travel expenses?! Rest of us in the police do!) and the overtime they have made a new threat of eco's. The climate camps were a godsend for them.

There's a lot of upset in the Cambs force at the minute because of the promotions and extra benefits the NETCU team get. They need to justify themselves.

Cambs Beat Cop

Eco aircraft?

09.11.2008 22:28

“For example, they could research an airline and see how many of its aircraft are not environmentally friendly”… hmm…that would be all of them then?

“Police said the animal rights movement was in 'disarray' and that its ringleaders had either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution, adding that its 'critical mass' of hardcore extremists was sufficiently depleted to have halted its effectiveness.”… seems they don’t read BiteBack much!

Maybe its time for a new reality show… “NUCTU says the stupidest things”


To Cambs Cop…

09.11.2008 22:47

If you are really a cop, I would be very interested in talking to you. Of course, complete anonymity can be offered. A dialog would be mutually beneficial. Post a HushMail/anon address it you would like to chat.

Cambridge Campaigner

"FEMA and their plan to KILL 90% of the American People."

10.11.2008 08:54

"FEMA and their plan to KILL 90% of the American People."

Bill of Rights

Cambs Cop

10.11.2008 15:24

"There's a lot of upset in the Cambs force at the minute because of the promotions and extra benefits the NETCU team get. They need to justify themselves. "

Good to see you've got your priorities straight.

Nevermind their repressive tactics, their political maneouvering, their scapegoating of innocent individuals, what get's a copper angry is the idea that he might be mising out on some perks.

Is it any wonder that people don't trust that you'll put the public's best interest first?


FEMA = Federal Emergency Management Agency (conspiracy theory bullshit)

11.11.2008 00:05

re: post about FEMA = Federal Emergency Management Agency

This is US rightwing conspiracy theory bullshit, it claims the US govt has a plan to kill 90% of the population. The people that rule the world would like more people to exploit, not less.

We would all have much more pleasant lives if the global population was a lot less, that is almost a truism. More wild spaces, less pollution, etc. Probably the most eco-friendly thing you can do is not breed.

Having said that, reducing the population isn't easy, although nature may do it in its own harsh manner if we don't do it ourselves in a nicer fashion. The idea that some "eco-terrorist" will try to murder 90% of the world's population is so ludicrous it is almost unbelievable that NETCU would suggest it. The whole point of reducing the human population is to make our lives (and animals' lives) more pleasant, so killing people would totally contradict that goal. If some eco-terrorist were to kill, I think they would choose specific powerful people rather than go for mass-murder of random people.

Wild animal populations tend to instinctively regulate their breeding to fit the territory and resources. Maybe humans will eventually do the same - fertility rates and breeding tend to go down in developed countries, so maybe their is some feedback loop at work. We are victims of our own success, really, too clever for our own good.

With a finite amount of resources and an exponentially increasing population, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the shit will eventually hit the fan unless we take steps to resolve the problem in a way that harms no-one.


Anti-peacenik propaganda

11.11.2008 13:55

"The idea that some "eco-terrorist" will try to murder 90% of the world's population
is so ludicrous it is almost unbelievable that NETCU would suggest it."

But of course the idea that madcap hegemonistic governments may one day nuke a substantial portion of the world's population in a future world war is perfectly believable.

It's the same old story. Anti-peacenik propaganda intended to divert attention
away from where the real threats lie.


boycott newspapers

12.11.2008 14:15

It's always surprised me how activist types are so shocked by these kinds of articles in the Guardian, or even the Observer.

For the last 10 years I can remember, these two newspapers have printed scare stories and nonsense like that - probably with the hope that progressive readers abandon any support for anti-capitalist, AR, eco type movements.

Remember the Obersver, 2nd day of the Iraq invasion: "troops enter basra cheered by locals" fact they didn't even get into Basra for another 3 or 4 weeks. Utter bollox. Remember "samurai wielding sword protestors" at Mayday one year.... It isn't even worth commenting on that one. There are probably endless other stories but I decided quite a while back to stop buying the Guardian or Observer, and now don't buy any paper at all. If you want to be informed, its better to read on the net where you can follow up different sources to check various facts etc.


Classic 'problem, reaction, solution' scenario

13.11.2008 10:56

Yes, it's a classic 'problem, reaction, solution' scenario: misdirect the public,
create a moral panic, manufature public consent for some change which they want
to try and make - in this case an increase and expansion in NETCU's budget and outreach (got to be some reason for their existence, right!?) - by creating a mythical, clearly blown out of all proportion bogey-man. It's all part of the suppressing the population/big brother agenda.


The Observer has decided to withdraw the story

01.12.2008 00:35

Who are the violent terrorists?
Who are the violent terrorists?

Did the Observer / Guardian say "sorry"?
Not quite, but they kind-of admit the gist of all the concerns over shoddy journalist expressed on this thread.

They say:

"We've been here before. Other newspapers reported on a predicted 'summer of hate' at climate camps that never materialised and the Press Complaints Commission found against the Evening Standard at climate campers were planning attacks at Heathrow.

"Environmentalist Keith Metcalf explained that Earth First! supported direct action against property, but not against people. He believed that the debate around sustainable population size had been twisted to imply that environmentalists wished to kill people.

"He also repeated the belief of several others that Nectu was briefing in this manner in order to make prosecutions easier and to boost its funding, which is at risk owing to the decline in animal rights campaigns. I can't verify that or the fears about mass murder because, despite repeated requests, Nectu won't respond. Accordingly, The Observer has decided to withdraw the story."

I no longer buy / rarely read the Guardian/Observer now either, but I don't mind guessing that they didn't give a full page feature to there humbling retraction of their (fairy) story. It certainly took a bit of searching to find it on their webshite.

on behalf of Observer Letters Editor
- Homepage: