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March 9, 2004
Domestic Terrorist Arrested

The FBI captured an alleged domestic terrorist this afternoon in Southern California, a Caltech student suspected of torching dozens of SUVs in attacks on car dealerships last year:

A Caltech graduate student allegedly affiliated with an eco-terrorist group was arrested today in connection with last summer's arson attacks aimed at Hummers and other sports utility vehicles at four dealerships in the San Gabriel Valley. Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested William Jensen Cottrell, 23, on federal charges of arson and vandalism, said FBI Assistant Director Richard T. Garcia. ...

Cottrell, using the alias Tony Marsden, sent several e-mails to the Los Angeles Times claiming responsibility for the arson attacks and confirming his affiliation with the Earth Liberation Front, according to the FBI. In the messages, which were sent one month after the fire bombings, Cottrell gave specific details of the attacks to prove his involvement.

The Earth Liberation Front regularly uses violence to further its political ends, and Cottrell left messages at the crime scenes where he firebombed the vehicles and buildings at the dealerships such as "ELF" and, ironically, "SUV = TERRORISM". Even ELF's own website proudly proclaims various ELF members taking credit for acts of violence, including the planting of "incendiary devices" -- bombs -- and tracks the trends of ELF violence. (ELF reports that 2003 productivity increased 8% over the previous year, for instance.)

If Cottrell is convicted, I hope that the judge sentences the young man while keeping in mind the damage Cottrell caused -- and I'm not talking about the SUVs. Allowing radicals like Cottrell and the ELF ilk to serve short sentences because their violence was directed at politically-correct targets only encourages others to follow suit. Cottrell, and people like him, can't stand the fact that most people disagree with their extreme political views and when they cannot convince a majority to vote like they do, resort to violence to achieve their ends instead. They represent the antithesis of a free and democratic society, madmen who seek to impose their political will by force. They only differ from al-Qaeda by a narrow margin of philosophy and the scale of their attacks. Allowing them to escape with a slap on the wrist will only guarantee that others will follow along the same path, and that Cottrell will be there to guide them on their journey.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 9, 2004 6:35 PM

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