OREGON: Extremist Pleads Guilty to Arson Conspiracies

PORTLAND, Oregon, April 22, 2022 (ENS) – A Pacific Northwest environmental extremist, arsonist and former fugitive pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court for his role in two arson conspiracies targeting commercial and government-owned animal processing facilities in Oregon and California.

Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and arson in Oregon and conspiracy to commit arson in California.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, his guilty plea also resolves Dibee’s pending criminal case in the Western District of Washington.

With his continued acceptance of responsibility, the government will recommend Dibee receive a sentence of 87 months, a little over seven years, in federal prison. He will be sentenced on July 27 by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in Oregon.

As part of his plea agreement, Dibee has agreed to pay restitution to his victims as determined by the government and ordered by the court.

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, according to the federal prosecutors.

Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, late 1990s (Photo by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Court documents show that beginning in October 1996 and continuing through December 2005, Dibee and at least 15 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.

Dibee and others claim to have acted out of compassion for the animals that are raised in factory farms. According to their own records posted online, Dibee and the others rescued hens, pigs, rabbits, turkeys in dozens of incidents. One pig or 200 hens at a time, they released thousands of animals.

Government prosecutors describe meetings held by Dibee and his co-conspirators to plan arsons of targeted sites. They conducted research and surveillance of the sites and discussed their planned actions using code words and code names. The conspirators designed and constructed makeshift “incendiary bombs” to ignite fires and destroy targeted sites, according to court documents.

Dibee and his co-conspirators held meetings to plan arsons of targeted sites, conducted research and surveillance of the sites and discussed their planned actions using code words and code names. The conspirators designed and constructed destructive devices which functioned as incendiary bombs to ignite fires and destroy targeted sites, according to court documents.

During their self-described “direct actions,” the conspirators dressed in dark clothing and wore masks and gloves. Some conspirators acted as lookouts while others were responsible for placing, igniting or attempting to ignite the improvised incendiary devices.

On or about July 21, 1997, Dibee and others used incendiary devices to destroy the Cavel West Meat Packing Plant, a commercial slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility in Redmond, Oregon.

Located 21 miles east of Susanville, California, the BLM’s Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals hold up to 1,000 animals. At this regional preparation center for wild horses and burros gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, captured animals are prepared for adoption with vaccinations, deworming, blood tests and freezemarking. (Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

Several years later, in October 2001, Dibee and others attempted to destroy the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Corrals, a government-owned facility used to remove wild horses from public lands located near Litchfield, California. The group’s attack on the facility caused the destruction of a barn and its contents.

Prior to the second incident, Dibee and others recruited co-conspirators and gathered supplies and fuel to make incendiary devices. The group used Dibee’s residence in Seattle to construct the devices and traveled from Seattle to Northern California in Dibee’s truck.

In 2006, after a long-running domestic terrorism investigation led by the FBI, a federal grand jury in Oregon indicted Dibee and 11 co-conspirators. Dibee and others were later indicted in California and Washington.

Dibee fled the United States in December 2005. In late summer 2018, Cuban authorities arrested Dibee on an Interpol Red Notice. The Department of State including the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement assisted in returning Dibee to the United States, together with the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.

One of Dibee’s co-conspirators remains at large. Josephine Sunshine Overaker, an American citizen, is believed to have fled to Europe in late 2001. Overaker faces 19 felony charges including conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility, attempted arson, and arson in the District of Oregon, the Western District of Washington, and the District of Colorado. The FBI continues to offer a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to Overaker’s arrest.

Featured image: Turkeys on a farm. October 14, 2017 (Photo by Englishirises)

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