PORTLAND, Ore. — After 12 years on the run, authorities say that accused domestic terrorist Joseph Mahmoud Dibee has been arrested abroad and will be extradited to the US to face charges in multiple states, including Oregon.
Now 50 years old, Seattle-native Joseph Dibee allegedly participated in an environmentally-motivated terrorist group with ties to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Dibee is suspected in crimes that took place in Oregon, California and Washington state.
“More than two decades ago, a loosely affiliated group of environmental extremists set out to express their views using force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “Thankfully no innocent lives were taken by these senseless acts...Dibee will now, as many of his co-conspirators have before, face the consequences of his actions. Using violent means to express one’s views will never be tolerated nor forgotten. We will bring every last person responsible for these crimes to justice.”
An American citizen, Dibbee is charged in the District of Oregon with one count of conspiracy to commit arson, one count of conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility, and one count of arson. He also faces one count each of conspiracy to commit arson, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence in the Western District of Washington and one count each of conspiracy to commit arson, arson of a government building, and possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence in the Eastern District of California.
The US Attorney's Office says that Dibee will make an initial appearance in federal court on Friday before a federal magistrate judge in the District of Oregon. The government will seek his continued detention.
According to court documents, federal authorities learned Dibee was traveling through Central America on his way to Russia with a planned stop in Cuba. With the assistance of the Cuban authorities, the FBI arranged for Dibee's detention before he boarded a plane bound for Russia—with the intent of returning him to the US to stand trial. Dibee fled the United States in December 2005.
In 2006, a federal grand jury in Oregon indicted Dibee and 11 co-conspirators as part of "Operation BACKFIRE"—a long-running FBI domestic terrorism investigation. The US Attorney's Office claims that the conspirators, known as “The Family,” have been linked to more than 40 criminal acts ranging from vandalism to arson between 1995 and 2001, causing more than $45 million in damages.
Authorities are still looking for one fugitive from Operation BACKFIRE—Josephine Sunshine Overaker, an American citizen believed to be either 43 or 46 years old, fled to Europe in late 2001. Overaker faces 19 felony charges. The US Attorney's Office says that Overaker speaks fluent Spanish and may seek employment as a firefighter, midwife, sheep tender, or masseuse. The FBI continues to offer a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to her arrest.