Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Toran J. Hansen

Third Advisor

Michele Rice


From 1990-2010 ecoterrorist attacks by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) created an anomaly in the U.S. with millions of dollars in property destruction. Interestingly, in a post 9/11 era, the FBI warns that the number one threat to U.S. national security is not religious terrorism, but rather environmental-group terrorism. When examining this topic further, there is a void in analysis between examining ecoterrorist attacks and U.S. public policy. Is there a statistical significant relationship between terrorist attacks by ALF/ELF and U.S. public policy towards terrorism? Is per capita income an influence on the attacks occurring in specific states? This study seeks to analyze such relationships through an exploratory analysis and case study approach. I conducted a trend analysis on attacks by ELF/ALF from 1990-2010 and the subsequent adoption of U.S. public policy towards terrorism. I analyzed per-capita income by region and its relationships to attacks occurring.

I performed chi^2 hypothesis testing in order to determine the statistical significant relationships between ELF/ALF attacks/U.S. public policy and per capita income by State. The findings of this study suggest that the definition of terrorism is ambiguous and can lead to alternative interpretations, which can affect U.S. public policy towards terrorism. Attacks by ALF/ELF are not deterred by U.S. public policy. Also, a majority of attacks by ALF/ELF are most likely to occur in states that rank in the top 20th percentile regarding per capita income and occur mainly on the west coast.

The statistical significance of the relationships between ELF/ALF attacks and U.S. public policy demonstrate that these two entities are mutually exclusive. Per capita income levels by states and ELF/ALF attacks are also mutually exclusive. This study creates an improved understanding of what constitutes terrorism and an understanding of the radical elements in the environmental movement and its place in a post 9/11 America. The significance of this study is to provide a model for analysis of terrorist attacks and government responses and provide a framework of inquiry for the fields of terrorism,public policy and conflict studies.

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