A man accused of eco-terrorism has been arrested after evading law enforcement for 12 years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon says.
50-year-old Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, of Seattle, faces federal criminal charges in Oregon, California and Washington state.
Dibee is alleged to have participated in crimes that have caused tens of millions of dollars in damages.
He faces charges connected to eco-terrorism groups that have committed more than 40 criminal acts between 1995 and 2001, the attorney’s office says.
He appeared in federal court in Oregon Friday afternoon and plead not guilty on all counts.
Dibee and co-conspirators were allegedly involved in crimes including vandalism and arson that caused more than $45 million in damages, the attorney’s office says.
Dibee fled from the United States in 2005. In 2006, Dibee and co-conspirators, known together as "The Family", were indicted as part of a long-running FBI domestic terrorism investigation called Operation BACKFIRE.
Many of Dibee's crimes have been linked to the Earth Liberation Front or the Animal Liberation Front, which are eco-terrorism groups.
The attorney’s office says he traveled the world to avoid capture.
Federal authorities say that before Dibee was detained and brought back to the U.S., he planned to travel through Central America on his way to Russia with a planned stop in Cuba.
In Oregon, Dibee faces charges of one count of conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility and one count of arson. He joins 11 co-conspirators who also face charges in Oregon.
In the Western District of Washington, he faces one count of conspiracy to commit arson, one count of possession of an unregistered firearm and one count of possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.
In the Eastern District of California, he faces one count of conspiracy to commit arson, one count of arson of a government building and one count of possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.
The attorney's office says one person connected to Operation BACKFIRE, a woman, remains at large.
Josephine Sunshine Overaker, believed to be in her 40s, fled Europe in late 2001. Overaker faces 19 charges, including conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility and attempted arson, authorities say.
Overaker speaks fluent Spanish and may seek employment as a firefighter, midwife, sheep-tender or masseuse. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to her arrest.
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