are there really eco-terrorists in France, as Gérald Darmanin suggests?

The actions of opponents of the Sainte-Soline mega-basins project “amount to eco-terrorism”, Gérald Darmanin was released, Sunday, October 30, after several clashes between activists and the police. Demonstrations this weekend opposed the creation of water retention basins to allow agriculture to compensate for future droughts.

>> Deux-Sèvres: “The only ones who have been aggressive are the police”, reaction on the left after accusations of “ecoterrorism”

This communication strategy of the Ministry of the Interior is assumed: it aims to witness the French shocked by the images, we explained on the executive side. But “there are no eco-terrorists in the proper sense in France”, replied Eric Denécé. The director of the French intelligence research center (CF2R) is not “Not sure Gérald Darmanin knows what he’s talking about”.

Ecoterrorism originated in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, with the appearance of ALF: theAnimal Liberation Front (Animal Liberation Front), which advocates violent and illegal actions to defend animals. Quickly, this movement was exported to the United States, where it was also established in 1992 the Earth Liberation Front (ELF, Earth Liberation Front).

The two battles, for animal rights on the one hand, for nature and the climate on the other, constitute until now the two “branches” of ecoterrorism. Freeing animals in laboratories, planting bombs, sending letter bombs… In the United States, according to a 2013 Homeland Security report, “239 fires and bomb attacks were committed by environmental or animal rights extremists between 1995 and 2010. 54.8% of these acts were committed in the name of environmental rights and 45.2% in the name of animal rights .” “They have done a lot of damage, a lot of sabotage, sometimes with the death of people”, says Eric Denécé. Organizations identified as eco-terrorists are also on the blacklist of both countries. The FBI and Scotland Yard have also set up specific working cells on the subject, the US Homeland Security report concluded “Environmental and animal rights extremists are a threat to American public safety”.

In France, despite attempts to set up in the mid-2000s, the movement did not last. “Never”, there was ecoterrorism in France, assured Eric Denécé, author in 2016 of Ecoterrorism! Anti-globalization, ecology, animalism: from protest to violence. Moreover, the Penal Code does not define ecoterrorism in particular but terrorism in general, as offenses. “in relation to an individual or collective enterprise intended to seriously disturb public order through intimidation or fear”.

however, “The question arises, because there is a frustration among activists, which leads to a phenomenon of radicalization”, according to the researcher. But we shouldn’t confuse everything, he argued, placing the actions of environmental radicals on a continuum from civil disobedience to violent action.“We destroy private property, we attack property”list Eric Denécé, citing for example the sabotage of the 5G antennas, the GMO mowers or the case of the Techniplast factory, in Limonest, in the Rhône, factory manufacturing cages for animals, which burned in April 2007. We to this may be added the fire which affected the Charles River laboratory, still on the Rhône, which also burned down.

In both cases, signs of the ALF were found in the area and the anti-terrorist section of the Paris prosecutor’s office was seized at the time. But none of these actions resulted in victims, and none are considered eco-terrorists. “In France, at the moment, the actions taken by these radical groups do not reach the frequency and level of gravity of what can be observed in the United States or Great Britain. We cannot speak from this point of perspective of ecoterrorism”lots of Eddy Fougier in the review Security and strategy.

Therefore, ecoterrorism is not a social reality in France. However, the authorities remain vigilant in this phenomenon, worried about the radicalization of environmental actions. At franceinfo, Laurent Nuñez, prefect of the Paris police, indicates that the term is “used” by the intelligence services and that there “several dozen individuals being pursued for violent radicalization, including movements defending causes they claim to be environmentalists”. However, the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office confirmed “no processes running” about eco-terrorism.

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