A U.S. citizen suspected of violent animal rights extremism has been added to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. It is the first instance of a domestic terrorist being put on the list, which includes international terrorists such as al-Qaida's Osama bin Laden.
The FBI announced April 21 that Daniel Andreas San Diego, 31, had been added to the most wanted list because of his links to bombings at two Northern California biotechnology companies in 2003.
San Diego, a computer network specialist, is accused of planting two bombs at the offices of an Emeryville, Calif., company in August 2003. The first bomb detonated early in the morning, but the second bomb—set to detonate an hour after the initial blast and likely intended to kill or injure first responders—was located, and the area was cleared before it ent off, according to the FBI.
Less than a month later, San Diego allegedly planted another bomb at a Pleasanton, Calif., company. The device was laced with nails to create potentially deadly shrapnel.
Although no one was injured in either case, the construction, placement, and timing of the bombs indicated San Diego intended to cause serious injury or death, the FBI stated.
Investigators say San Diego targeted both companies because he believed they had connections to Huntingdon Life Sciences, an international research firm headquartered in the United Kingdom with an office in New Jersey. The animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty has been trying to force Huntingdon out of business for years.
San Diego is said to be a member of a domestic cell of the group—SHAC USA—that has waged a campaign of violence and intimidation stateside against companies doing business with Huntingdon.
Placing San Diego on the Most Wanted Terrorist list signifies the seriousness with which law enforcement takes acts of domestic terror. "As a society, we cannot sit idly by and allow violence to become an acceptable solution for social and political problems," said Special Agent in Charge Charlene Thornton of the FBI's San Francisco office. "Mr. San Diego and those like him are every bit as great a threat to the peace and security of the United States as any foreign terrorist."
After each company was bombed, claims of responsibility were posted on the Internet demanding that the businesses end their affiliation with Huntingdon. Future violence was threatened if the demands were not met.
San Diego was initially identified as a suspect after being stopped for a traffic violation in Pleasanton about an hour before the Pleasanton bombing. A subsequent search of his home and vehicle revealed bomb-making materials similar to those used in both attacks.
A federal warrant was issued for San Diego's arrest in October 2003, but he fled before he could be taken into custody. In 2004, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging San Diego with two counts of destroying or attempting to destroy property with explosives and two counts of use of a destructive device in a crime of violence. The FBI is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading directly to the arrest of San Diego.
The FBI believes San Diego's actions have set an example for other extremists in the animal rights movement. In August 2008, for example, individuals espousing similar beliefs set off two firebombs in Santa Cruz, Calif. Although some in the animal rights movement have characterized these acts of violence as mere property crimes, firebombing occupied homes and detonating explosive devices in public areas to further political or social causes are, by definition, acts of terrorism.