SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI renewed its call Friday for the public’s help in finding an animal rights activist wanted in the 2003 bombings at two corporate offices in Northern California.
Daniel San Diego was the first suspected domestic terrorist added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List in April 2009. He is charged with planting two bombs that exploded about an hour apart in the wee hours of Aug. 28, 2003, on the campus of a biotechnology company in Emeryville, Calif., and another bomb that went off at a nutritional products company in Pleasanton, Calif., a month later. Neither bombing injured anyone, but authorities said the second bomb at the biotechnology company was meant to harm first responders.
A group calling itself Revolutionary Cells-Animal Liberation Brigade claimed responsibility for the bombings, citing the companies’ ties to Huntington Life Science. Huntington has been a longtime target of animal rights extremists because of its work with experimental drugs and chemicals on animals under contract for pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other companies.
The FBI had San Diego under around-the-clock surveillance when investigators watched him park his car near downtown San Francisco on the afternoon of Oct. 6, 2003, and disappear into a transit station. The FBI hasn’t seen him since, though it says it has received numerous sightings of him around the globe.
“He was very good at eluding surveillance, obviously,” said David Johnson, the FBI agent in charge of the bureau’s San Francisco office. “He had a plan in place, and he implemented that plan very quickly.”
Johnson called on the public’s help in tracking down San Diego during a press conference in the lobby of the federal building that houses the FBI’s San Francisco office. Johnson said the agency hasn’t received any new intelligence on the case, but called the news conference to breathe new life into the investigation and to publicize a new Bay Area website that posts fugitives being sought by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the region. The FBI is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to San Diego’s capture and conviction.
Johnson said the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit believes San Diego may be oversees teaching English or working in tourism. At the time of his disappearance, San Diego lived a strict vegan lifestyle, refusing to consume or wear anything made from animals.
San Diego, 35, graduated from Terra Linda High School in an affluent neighborhood in Marin County, north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. His father Edmund San Diego was the city manager of Belvedere, a wealthy Marin County enclave. Edmund San Diego didn’t return a phone call Friday. He has declined to talk about his son in the past. Johnson said Friday that he has “no reason to believe” that San Diego’s family has been helping him financially or otherwise during his decade on the lam.
Johnson said that the FBI doesn’t know how San Diego has been supporting himself since disappearing, but “wouldn’t be surprised” if it turned out that animal rights groups and extremists having been helping San Diego hide.
San Diego’s case has been shown on the television program America’s Most Wanted six times and the agency has received numerous tips and alleged sightings placing him in Marin County, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Northampton, Mass. Johnson said the FBI publicized the alleged Northampton, Mass., sighting in 2009 because it was an unusual place for the fugitive to appear.
The FBI says San Diego also has ties to Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica and Bolivia.
“On a fairly regular basis, we get reports,” Johnson said.
San Diego is described as 6-feet tall and weighing 160 pounds at the time of his disappearance.
He had several tattoos at that time, including an image of burning hillsides on his chest with the inscription “it only takes a spark” printed underneath. Images of burning and collapsing buildings are on his sides and back. An image of a leafless tree rising in the middle of a road is tattooed on his back.
The FBI says its possible San Diego had the tattoos removed or altered.
The FBI considers San Diego armed and dangerous.