Monday, November 21, 2005

Hagerstown, Maryland - The underground Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has claimed responsibility for setting four fires in newly-constructed unoccupied homes built by the McLean, Virginia Ryan Homes in the Hager's Crossing subdivision. One building was burned to the ground but the other three may be salvageable. The developer estimated the damage at more than $300,000.

Credit for the arson was claimed via an e-mail originating from the e-mail address Treebeard is the name of a giant shepherd, one of a race called the Ents, in J.R.R. Tolkien's cult fantasy novel "The Two Towers." The message read:

Last night we, the Earth Liberation Front, put the torch to a development of Ryan Homes in Hagerstown, Maryland (off of Route 40, behind the Wal-Mart). We did so to strike at the bottom line of this country's most notorious serial land rapist...We warn all developers that the people of the Earth are prepared to defend what remains of the wild and the green...We encourage all who watch with sadness while developers sell out the future of us and our children to join us in resisting them in any and every possible way...The Ents are going to war.

The second reference to "The Two Towers" in the communique indicates that the ELF cell that burned the homes in Hagerstown is most likely comprised of nerds.

This is not the first time Ryan Homes has been targeted by the ELF. In 2003, a Philadelphia-based cell (which claimed to be made up of middle-aged longtime Philadelphia residents), vandalized and spray-painted a number of construction vehicles and a sample house owned by Ryan Homes, causing an estimated $20,000 in damages. They called their action, which took place shortly before Christmas, a “Christmas present to the developers.”

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