The tactics of the United States’ most dangerous domestic terrorists may take an even more violent turn in the near future, if their own rhetoric can be believed. This week the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which the FBI puts at the top of its “domestic terror group” list, claimed that it “will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun” to provide “protection for our planet.”

Anarchist Internet mailing lists and chat rooms are abuzz with this news, which has some activists cheering. “If the authorities are going to hand out 22 year sentences for the burning of a truck,” asks one ELF enthusiast, “why not respond in kind?”

Saying that “global revolutionaries” must no longer adhere to “a flawed, inconsistent, ‘non-violent’ ideology,” the ELF took credit for setting a $700,000 fire at a U.S. Forest Service installation near Erie, Pennsylvania. Firebombs are nothing new for this criminal organization, but this marks the first time its members have openly called for the use of deadly force. One Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agent told the Associated Press that responding “firefighters’…lives [were] in danger” as well. ELF has also vowed that it will target the facility again if it is rebuilt.

Just last week, Forest Service Officials warned loggers in Montana that many of the out-of-state environmental activists operating there are trained in arson, vandalism, and bomb-making. Many, said the agency’s Bill Fox, are “people who have direct ties to the Earth Liberation Front…. These people play hardball.”

ELF’s sister group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), has spawned several special-interest subgroups. These include the anti-human-health “SHAC” organization, run in the U.S. by former ALF “spokesperson” Kevin Kjonaas; and a British anti-hunting group called the Urban Alliance.

In recent weeks, SHAC has resumed its campaign of intimidation against Huntingdon Life Sciences’ bankers and stock traders, distributing the names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and physical characteristics of employees targeted for harassment. “There are some very sick people in this world,” notes one stock trader who receives literally hundreds of vulgar and harassing phone calls every day.

In Great Britain, the anarchist and animal-rights-oriented “Urban Alliance,” which wants to outlaw fox-hunting, has issued a “hit list” of pro-hunting celebrities, including members of the royal family. The group’s web site includes the exhortation that “the only good hunter is a dead one.” The Observer reports that hunters in the UK have received mail “booby-trapped with razor blades” in recent weeks, which may just be a wind-up for aggressive violence to come.