Agents raid house for arson leads

The State News/2000
By Tony Paul

Federal investigators Friday raided the Oregon home of the former spokesman of the terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for the New Year's Eve Agriculture Hall fire.

Agents from the FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Forest Service and two MSU police officers searched Craig Rosebraugh's home, office and car last week. Portland FBI special agent Gordon Compton said agents seized items, which he didn't specify, from Rosebraugh's home and office.

Law enforcement officers wanted more information about the Earth Liberation Front, which has claimed the campus arson as well as others.

"This (search) was in reference to a number of instances (involving the ELF)," Compton said. "The seizure of documents & might lead to the identification of those that are responsible for a number of instances throughout the country, including MSU."

Compton wouldn't comment on the status of the investigations.

Besides the Agriculture Hall fire, the radical environmentalist organization has taken credit for eight arson attacks since 1996.

"There have been a number of ELF actions since December," Rosebraugh told The Oregonian, a Portland newspaper, Friday. "I think they're getting frustrated because they haven't indicted anybody or sentenced anybody."

Rosebraugh was not available for comment Sunday.

ELF most recently took credit two weeks ago for the Agriculture Hall attack when Rosebraugh faxed claims to several media outlets. The group said it targeted the office of visiting professor Catherine Ives to protest her biotechnology research, which it claims causes food-safety and environmental problems.

Ives heads the Agriculture Biotechnology Support Program at MSU - a program started in 1991 to improve agriculture methods in developing countries by using genetically engineered crops.

She has overseen the program since 1996. Her research was stored in another building and was not damaged in the fire, which caused about $400,000 damage to one of MSU's oldest landmarks.

Investigators also searched Rosebraugh's home for evidence relating to an arson at a ski facility in Vail, Colo., on Oct. 12, 1998, for which the ELF claimed responsibility. Damages totaled nearly $12 million - the costliest act of eco-terrorism in U.S. history.

Rosebraugh resigned from the ELF last week, citing philosophical differences. He had served as a spokesman for the group and the Animal Liberation Front for about two years.

While the ALF and ELF are not affiliated, they have worked together in the past. ALF claimed sole responsibility for the Anthony Hall fire in 1992, during which members set laboratory animals free.

ELF members last struck in Michigan in 1998 when the group released 5,000 mink from a mink farm in the Upper Peninsula.

Rosebraugh has been subpoenaed to appear before a Portland federal grand jury Feb. 29 to answer questions about recent attacks. But Rosebraugh might not provide much information to the grand jury.

Previously, Rosebraugh has said he has little direct knowledge of either organization. He said he serves as a mediator who only informs the press of ELF or ALF claims.

Rosebraugh said he receives anonymous phone calls or letters about claims of responsibility but has no direct contact with organization members.

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