Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, a 39-year-old Canadian who has been sought for a decade in the largest “eco-terrorism” case in United States history, was arrested today by FBI agents after she surrendered in Blaine, Wash.
Rubin, an alleged member of a group that called itself “The Family,” is to be taken to Oregon to face trial on federal arson, destructive device and conspiracy charges, federal authorities said in announcing her arrest. She was one of three remaining fugitives in the group, another 10 members of which were sentenced to terms ranging from three to 13 years in 2007. Collectively, the group is accused of 20 acts of arson carried out between 1996 and 2001 in five Western states on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
The arrest was the latest development in a federal investigation dubbed “Operation Backfire” that resulted in the largest case ever brought against environmental extremists. A grand jury indictment alleges the group sought to “influence and affect the conduct of government, private business and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means.”
The alleged leader of The Family, William C. Rodgers, committed suicide in a jail in Arizona after being indicted in 2006. Along with another member of The Family, Rodgers is believed to have been the author of the ALF manual, Setting Fires With Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide.
Rebecca Rubin specifically is charged with participating in a Nov. 30, 1997, arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County near Burns, Ore., and a Dec. 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford, Ore.
A companion indictment in Colorado charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the Oct. 19, 1998, fires that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Eagle County, Colorado. At the time, the attack in Vail, which caused $12 million in damage, was the costliest and most dramatic eco-terrorist attack in American history.
A third indictment filed in the Eastern District of California charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in the Oct.15, 2001, fire at the BLM Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif.
In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from 37 to156 months after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson.
With Rubin’s surrender, two final defendants are now being sought. Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker remain at large as international fugitives, federal authorities say.