Remember remember, action security in November... [update: Observer article withdrawn]

Remember to think about security when planning actions & campaigns, every month - there's been a helpful reminder in a Sunday newspaper that our aims and the aims of the state are somewhat different!

Though the article can be taken to be a police unit safeguarding their ongoing budgets and employment - as has happened in the past with similar scare articles (from the police & the security services) - it's also a handy reminder of the security issues we should think about to ensure that our campaigning remains effective. Check out the background dirt on the journos below...

See the Activist Security website for a full downloadable booklet.

Also, try out this selection of links:

Security, Privacy, & Anonymity for Autonomy...
ELF Press Office's security page
Top 100 Network Security Tools

The original newspaper article:

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,
The Observer, Sunday November 9 2008

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.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/09/eco-terrorism-earth-fi...

Dirt dug on article writers:

From: http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/the-guardian-eco-terrorism-and-t...

THE GUARDIAN ECO-TERRORIST JOURNO IS ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER……..EXCLUSIVE!

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 http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/guardian-journalists-police-pats...
And http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/god-bone-youre-a-cunt-the-observ...

Funny & informative.

---OR---

This ‘Nick Denning’ is clearly not the cricketer and Ian Bone’s suggestion that he is an army officer is unlikely. It is more likely to be the ND who worked at the BBC as a researcher and a bit of work on Google pulls up a number of requests that he has made for information.

For instance:

http://www.stewartbyfc.co.uk/fusionnews/archive.php?show=month&month=Jul...

The most likely explanation is that this is the person – that he is a researcher who wants to break into national journalism.

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Schnews article & quotes from the journo

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The Observer/Guardian blog on the subject if you want to post something there is http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2008/nov/10/activists-kingsnorth

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Update:
The readers' editor on ... anonymous sources and claims of eco-terrorism

The Observer, Sunday November 23 2008

You might think The Observer's concern for the environment arose only in the past 20 years as global warming became apparent, but it has actually been reading the signs since 1925. Waldorf Astor, then the paper's forward-thinking owner, took a keen interest in all things environmental and urged his editor, JL Garvin, to appoint a correspondent to cover ecology and agriculture. Step forward Sir William Beach Thomas, who became, in effect, the first environment correspondent.

Much later, The Observer was to investigate and reveal the 'greenhouse effect' and to warn of its possible consequences. Thousands of words have been devoted to the subject ever since, winning a loyal audience, particularly among those who are active in the environment movement. So there was understandable dismay at a recent story which told of a 'growing threat from eco-terrorists'.

Police were said to be investigating the eco-movement Earth First! which, they claimed, had supporters who believed that reducing the Earth's population by four-fifths would help protect the planet. The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit was concerned that a lone maverick might attempt a terrorist attack. It had also warned several companies they were being targeted as major polluters by the group and had offered them advice on how to withstand attack.

It's perfectly legitimate to report police security concerns, but none of the statements were substantiated. No website links were offered, no names were mentioned, no companies identified and no police source would go on the record.

The article linked Earth First! to climate camps established last summer, including one at Kingsnorth power station, Kent, and at Heathrow.

While the paper had no intention of suggesting that every activist was a potential terrorist, several climate campers wrote to protest. 'If a journalist is told by a single anonymous source that a movement of people has among it individuals who would take the lives of men, women and children in a terror attack, what standard of evidence does that journalist require? In this case: no evidence whatsoever. The claim itself was the story.'

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.