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'If A Tree Falls' Traces Earth Liberation Front's Rise

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Before 9/11, the FBI labelled a radical environmental group America's number one domestic terrorism threat.

In the documentary If A Tree Falls, director Marshall Curry tells the story of the rise and fall of the Earth Liberation Front. Between 1995 and 2001, members of the group operated in separate anonymous cells, committing acts of arson across the Western United States. The group targeted ski resorts, lumber companies, SUV dealerships and Forest Service ranger stations.

The filmwhich has been nominated for an Academy Award — focuses on why one member, Daniel McGowan, decided to use violence. McGowan was arrested in December 2005 and was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2007.

Curry talks with NPR's Neal Conan about McGowan's radicalization and the rise and fall of the "eco-terrorist" organization.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


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