Environmental extremist pleads guilty to two arsons aimed at targeting commercial and government-owned animal processing facilities.
Environmental animal rights extremist and arsonist Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, 53, pleaded guilty earlier this month in federal court for his role in two arsons aimed at targeting commercial and government-owned animal processing facilities in both Oregon and California. Dibee’s guilty plea, in essence, resolves a criminal case made against him in the Western District of Washington.
According to court documents, “Beginning in October 1996 and continuing through December 2005, Dibee and…other individuals affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front…knowingly conspired with one another to damage or destroy various commercial and government-owned properties.”
In May 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) announced, “The Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front have become the most active criminal extremist elements in the United States. The group’s stated philosophy discourages acts that harm ‘any animal, human and nonhuman,” and in general, the animal rights and environmental extremist movements have adhered to this. Beginning in 2002, however, this operational philosophy has been overshadowed by an escalation in violent rhetoric and tactics, particularly within the animal rights movement.”
Dibee and his co-conspirators, court documents state, met up to “plan arsons of targeted sites, conducted research and surveillance of the sites and discussed their planned actions using code words and code names.” They also “constructed destructive devices which functioned as incendiary bombs to ignite fires and destroy targeted sites.” When carrying out their mission, members purposely wore dark clothing, masks, and gloves. Some watched for any signs of detection while others “were responsible for placing, igniting or attempting to ignite the improvised incendiary devices.”
On July 21, 1997, Dibee and others used devices to destroy the Cavel West Meat Packing Plant, a commercial slaughterhouse and meat-packing facility. Later, in October 2001, they tried to destroy the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Corrals, a government-owned facility used to remove wild horses from public lands near Litchfield, California.
In 2006, after the probe headed by the FBI, government agents determined the identities of those involved. A federal grand jury indicted Dibee and 11 others (known as “the Family”) in Oregon. They were later indicted in the Eastern District of California and Western District of Washington. The dozen co-conspirators were found to be responsible for more than 40 criminal acts between 1995 and 2001, leading to more than $45 million in damages.
Dibee then fled the United States in December 2005 and in the summer of 2018, Cuban authorities arrested him on an Interpol Red Notice. The Department of State, including the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, returned Dibee to the U.S.
Dibee is currently set to serve a sentence of 87 months in federal prison. He will be sentenced on July 27 by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in the District of Oregon. He will also pay restitution to his victims.
One of Dibee’s co-conspirators remains at large, according to federal agents. Josephine Sunshine Overaker, an American citizen around 50 years old, is believed to have fled to Europe in 2001. She is facing 19 felony charges in the District of Oregon, the Western District of Washington, and the District of Colorado. The FBI has been offering a reward of up to $50,000 for any information leading to her arrest.