A left-wing “environmental extremist” pleaded guilty to his role in multiple arson attacks on animal processing plants on Thursday. Joseph Mahmoud Dibee admitted to working domestic terrorism ring known as “the Family,” federal prosecutors said.
The convicted arsonist and his associates have been described as “environmental extremists” by prosecutors. Dibee admitted to working with at least 15 others as members of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front to destroy the Cavel West Meat Packing Plant in Oregon in 1997, as well as a government-run wild horse facility in California in 2001, according to the Department of Justice.
Dibee was initially charged in 2006, but he fled the country a month before the indictment was handed down. In 2018, Dibee was arrested in Cuba before he boarded a flight for Russia on an Interpol Red Notice, according to the DOJ.
On Thursday, the environmental extremist’s legal saga concluded when Dibee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and arson charges.
“The conspirators, together known as ‘the Family,’ were ultimately linked to more than 40 criminal acts between 1995 and 2001 and caused more than $45 million in damages,” the DOJ said in a press release.
In the late 1990s, Dibee and his co-conspirators used “incendiary devices” to destroy an Oregon commercial slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility, according to the news release. In 2001, Dibee and others “attempted to destroy” a government-owned wild horse corral in California, prosecutors said.
The extremists demonstrated high levels of coordination during their “direct actions”, which is how the group classified its violent attacks. Members would wear masks and dark clothing in order to conceal their identities, spoke in codes and had “lookouts” who would keep watch during firebombings.
Dibee, now 53, faces up to 87 months in federal prison after entering a plea agreement. As part of the deal, he also agreed to pay an unspecified amount in restitution to victims of his crimes. He is scheduled for sentencing this upcoming July.