Ethnic hate groups as Domestic Terrorism Discussion

Domestic Terrorism

Select a domestic terror group that has been active in recent years and describe it. If you have difficulty selecting an appropriate group, consider environmental groups, animal rights groups, ethnic hate groups, or anti-abortion groups. Your discussion of the selected group should cover the following:

Provide a description of the group’s motivation, goals, and membership.

Describe an example of an action that the group has taken that would meet the definitions of terrorism.

  • Analyze whether this group is gaining strength. What are the factors that will influence whether this group grows in strength or weakens?
  • Describe the efforts of law enforcement to combat the group.
  • Propose strategies for the government to deal with this group in the future. Keep in mind that there may be things the government can do to address the group’s underlying motivations – think beyond “law enforcement.” Be sure that any proposals you offer are constitutional and realistic.


One domestic terror group that has been active in recent years is the “Earth Liberation Front” (ELF). The ELF is an extremist environmental group that emerged in the United States in the 1990s. Their primary motivation is to combat what they perceive as environmental destruction and exploitation by targeting industries and entities they believe are responsible for environmental harm.

Motivation, Goals, and Membership: The ELF’s motivation stems from a radical environmentalist ideology, viewing mainstream environmental efforts as ineffective and advocating for direct action to protect the environment. Their goals include sabotaging infrastructure, property destruction, and economic disruption to deter what they see as ecological destruction. Membership in the ELF tends to be decentralized and anonymous, with individuals or small cells carrying out acts of eco-terrorism.

Example of Terrorism: An example of an action taken by the ELF that meets the definition of terrorism is the arson attack on the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado in 1998. In this incident, ELF members set fire to several buildings and ski lifts, causing millions of dollars in damages. This act was intended to protest the expansion of the ski resort into federally protected lynx habitat.

Strength and Factors Influencing Growth: The strength of the ELF fluctuates over time, influenced by various factors such as public perception of environmental issues, law enforcement efforts, and internal dynamics within the environmental activist community. Factors that could influence the group’s growth include increased public awareness of environmental issues, recruitment efforts targeting disaffected individuals, and technological advancements facilitating coordination and communication among members. Conversely, effective law enforcement actions, public condemnation of violence, and internal conflicts within the movement could weaken the group.

Law Enforcement Efforts: Law enforcement agencies have taken various measures to combat the ELF, including surveillance, infiltration of activist networks, and prosecution of individuals involved in eco-terrorism. Additionally, efforts have been made to disrupt funding sources and dismantle support networks associated with the group.

Strategies for Government Response: Beyond law enforcement, the government can address the underlying motivations of the ELF by investing in environmental conservation initiatives, promoting sustainable development practices, and engaging with mainstream environmental organizations to address grievances through legal and peaceful means. Additionally, educational programs aimed at raising awareness about the consequences of eco-terrorism and fostering dialogue between environmentalists and policymakers could help prevent radicalization and extremism within the environmental movement. It is essential that any government response respects civil liberties and adheres to constitutional principles while effectively addressing the threat posed by domestic terrorism.

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