Sunday, 5 January 2014

Fwd: DHS Bulletin: Self-identified Anarchist Extremists Target Urban Gentrification Sites with Arson

(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Self-identified Anarchist Extremists Target Urban
Gentrification Sites with Arson
January 4, 2014 in Department of Homeland Security

Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), Homeland Counterterrorism
Division, Homegrown Violent Extremism Branch

    4 pages
    For Official Use Only
    July 23, 2013


    (U//FOUO) This Note analyzes the recent use of arson by anarchist
extremists targeting urban development sites they describe as negatively
impacting lower income residents through "gentrification." This information
is provided to enable federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law
enforcement; first responders; and private sector security officials to
identify, preempt, prevent, or respond to intentional acts targeting urban
development sites by anarchist extremist campaigns.

    (U//FOUO) We assess the use of arson by anarchist extremists to
specifically attack urban development sites they perceive as
"gentrification" is an escalation of tactics against this target set and a
departure from more traditional targets of violence-symbols of
globalization, political and economic summits, corporations, military
recruiting offices, and law enforcement. I&A judges that anarchist
extremists are likely to replicate this tactic due to their history of
sharing tactics, repeating targets, and the relative success of prior
attacks. We have moderate confidence in this judgment because the incident
information and historical patterns of criminal activity are credibly
sourced and plausible even though the number of new cases is limited.

    > (U//FOUO) Although environmental rights extremists-with whom anarchist
extremists often are associated and express solidarity-historically employed
arson at development sites in suburban or rural environments, anarchist
extremists in North America rarely have targeted urban development they
perceive as "gentrification" with arson. The reasons for this apparent
escalation to violence against this target set remain unknown.

    (U//FOUO) Individuals or groups claiming to be perpetrators of two
recent-but thus far unconnected--attacks in Vancouver, Canada and Seattle,
Washington, and a 2011 attack in Grand Rapids, Michigan, cited anarchist
extremist beliefs as the basis for their attacks on urban development
projects. None of the arsons resulted in injuries; however, the Vancouver
fire damaged adjacent homes, highlighting the potential for the tactic to
cause unintended death or serious injury.

    > (U//FOUO) Individuals calling themselves the "Anti-Gentrification
Front" (AGF) in May 2013 claimed credit for setting fire to a construction
site for new duplexes in Vancouver. The claim, posted to an anarchist web
forum, stated that the attack was motivated by "rising rent costs and
gentrification" in Vancouver. No arrests have been made.
    > (U//FOUO) Suspected anarchist extremists in February 2013 set fire to
a condominium development under construction in Seattle. An anonymous post
on an anarchist website took credit for the attack and claimed that they
were protesting "gentrification" developments in the city and expressed
solidarity with imprisoned anarchists. No arrests have been made.
    > (U//FOUO) Individuals set fire to an unfinished condominium in
February 2011 in Grand Rapids. A letter claiming responsibility three days
later cited "antigentrification" as motivation and threatened additional
actions, including robbery, assault, and kidnapping.

    (U//FOUO) Each of the three arsons was preceded by lower level criminal
activity or mischief involving anarchist or "anti-gentrification"
statements, suggesting a deliberate shift by perpetrators toward more
violent activities to oppose local urban development efforts. While we
remain concerned that the process of escalation from minor criminal acts to
more violent activities like arsons could be repeated, it also represents a
potential opportunity to interdict or prevent further arsons.

    > (U//FOUO) Before the Vancouver arson, the AGF claimed responsibility
in online communications for a number of low-level criminal actions,
including smashing the windows of a "yuppie" restaurant and Vancouver city
trucks; AGF claimed the targets of their attacks supported a specific
community plan promoting "gentrification." These crimes remain unsolved.
    > (U//FOUO) According to local media reporting, graffiti critical of
development efforts, such as "Gentrification Kills (sic)," appeared in
several areas of Seattle during the two years prior to the arson; however,
no claims of responsibility for the graffiti or connection to the arson have
been made.
    > (U//FOUO) The same neighborhood of Grand Rapids that was later
targeted by arson first experienced vandalism, including smashed windows and
graffiti critical of "gentrification" and anarchist symbols. These low-level
crimes occurred on the 25th day of each of the two months preceding the
arson, suggesting some connection. No arrests have been made.

    (U//FOUO) I&A is actively seeking additional reporting from law
enforcement about incidents of anarchist extremists targeting sites they
associate with "gentrification." We have no specific indications of ongoing
plotting against targets related to urban development but remain concerned
about the potential for further attacks of this nature.

    > (U//FOUO) Claims of responsibility have gained publicity among the
anarchist extremist community, which could inspire copycat attacks. Law
enforcement and first responders should be vigilant for signs of possible
preparation for arson, as well as for lesser criminal activity and vandalism
by anarchist extremists, which may be indicative of follow-on violent

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