Most Wanted Monday: The Alleged Eco-Terrorist Who Had a Vegan Marshmallow Business

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
May 6 2013 3:02 PM

Most Wanted Monday: The Alleged Eco-Terrorist Who Had a Vegan Marshmallow Business

Daniel Andreas San Diego
Daniel Andreas San Diego

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Name: Daniel Andreas San Diego

Wanted for: Bombing two companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Advertisement

Added to FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List: 2009.

The circumstances: Last week, convicted cop killer and 1970s radical Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, became the first woman to make the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. But she wasn’t the first American to make the list for an alleged act of domestic terror. That honor goes to a Berkeley, Calif., native named Daniel Andreas San Diego. In a lot of ways, San Diego seemed like your typical Bay Area resident: He was a tattooed environmentalist who wore glasses, worked with computers, and had a small startup business developing vegan marshmallows. But according to the FBI, the marshmallow venture was just a cover for San Diego’s real business: eco-terrorism.

In August and September 2003, San Diego allegedly set off three bombs at the headquarters of two Bay Area corporations connected to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a European animal testing lab that has long been opposed by animal rights groups. (San Diego was allegedly connected to a group called “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.”) The first two bombs went off at the Chiron Corporation, a biotech firm; the last bomb was set at the Shaklee Corporation, a company that produced nutritional supplements. Nobody was hurt in the bombings, primarily because all three were set off in the middle of the night when the buildings were empty. Still, the bombs weren’t entirely harmless: the Shaklee bomb was filled with nails that would become shrapnel, while authorities believe the second Chiron bomb was deliberately timed to explode just as emergency personnel were responding to the first Chiron bomb.

A shadowy animal rights group called “Revolutionary Cells” claimed responsibility for both attacks. But the feds didn’t immediately tie San Diego to the bombings, and the delay apparently gave him time to plot an exit strategy. Though he was eventually placed under heavy surveillance, San Diego gave the authorities the slip in October 2003, ditching his car in downtown San Francisco and dropping out of sight. He was indicted in 2004 and added to the Most Wanted Terrorists list in 2009.

His likely whereabouts: Where in the world is Daniel San Diego? It’s certainly possible that he’s been sneaking around the world from Kiev to Carolina. But he might also be a bit closer to home: San Diego was tentatively spotted in Northampton, Mass., in 2011. “I suppose it's a fun place to hide out. There's a lot going on. There's a lot of people on the street,” one Northampton resident told WSHM-TV at the time.

Prospects of catching him: Significantly higher than the other people on the Most Wanted Terrorists list, I’d say. Most of San Diego’s counterparts are affiliated with Islamic terror organizations, and are thought to be hiding in cave-ridden foreign lands. While Western Massachusetts is treacherous in its own way, it’s no South Waziristan.

Most Wanted Score: Pretty low. San Diego seems out of place on a list primarily filled with violent jihadists, especially when you consider that nobody was harmed in the Bay Area bombings. On the other hand, the FBI reports that he does have several creepy, villainous tattoos: “a round image of burning hillsides in the center of his chest with the words ‘It only takes a spark’ printed in a semicircle below; burning and collapsing buildings on the sides of his abdomen and back; and a single leafless tree rising from a road in the center of his lower back.” Even with bonus points for those tattoos, I’m still going low here: 4 out of 10 for Daniel Andreas San Diego.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.