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11 indicted on ecoterror charges



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Vandals damaged or destroyed dozens of SUVs at this Southern California dealership in August 2003.

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Justice Department
Environmental Issues

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department on Friday announced a 65-count indictment against 11 environmental activists accused of ecoterrorism attacks in five states.

The charges include conspiracy to commit arson; arson; attempted arson; use and possession of a destructive device; and destruction of an energy facility.

"The indictment tells a story of four-and-a-half years of arson, vandalism, violence and destruction claimed to have been executed on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front or Earth Liberation Front, extremist movements known to support acts of domestic terrorism," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told reporters. (Watch Gonzales calls attacks domestic terrorism -- 5:48)

Officials said the groups carried out the alleged attacks between 1996 and 2001 in Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, California and Colorado.

The targets included the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse facilities, U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, meat processing companies, lumber companies, a high-tension power line and a Colorado ski facility.

The suspects allegedly used homemade incendiary devices made from milk jugs, petroleum products and timers to start fires.

"Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the motive," FBI Director Robert Mueller said. "The FBI is committed to protecting Americans from crime and terrorism, including acts of domestic terrorism in the name of animal rights or the environment."

Gonzales said that eight of the suspects are in custody and three were thought to be out of the country.

A Justice Department news release identified the suspects as Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, Sarah Kendall Harvey, Daniel Gerard McGowan, Stanislas Gregory Meyerhoff, Josephine Sunshine Overaker, Jonathan Mark Christopher Paul, Rebecca Rubin, Suzanne Savoie, Darren Todd Thurston and Kevin M. Tubbs.

Gerlach, Harvey, Meyerhoff, McGowan, Thurston and Tubbs were arrested December 7 on various charges, including the destruction of an energy facility.

Paul was arrested Tuesday on a criminal complaint charging him with one of the arsons mentioned in the indictment and Savoie was arrested on Thursday.

Dibee, Overaker and Rubin are believed to be outside of the United States.

The suspects are believed to be part of a group of about 20 people who are allegedly linked to 25 criminal acts including arson, attempted arson, vandalism and illegal releases of animals, sources told CNN.

This larger group of ELF and ALF members is blamed for about 1,200 incidents over a 10-year period, from 1994-2004, the sources said.

CNN's Kevin Bohn, Kelli Arena, Carol Cratty and Terry Frieden contributed to this report

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