(Reuters) - U.S. authorities in pursuit of a fugitive animal rights activist suspected in a pair of California bombings over a decade ago have focused their hunt on Hawaii’s big island following a lead he may be there, an FBI spokesman said on Wednesday.
The fugitive, Daniel Andreas San Diego, is a suspect in connection with a bomb blast at a biotechnology firm near Oakland in August 2003. A second bomb found there was deactivated by authorities and possibly intended to target first responders.
San Diego, 36, was also suspected of involvement in a nail-filled bomb blast at a nutritional products company in the San Francisco-area suburb of Pleasanton the following month.
“He may or may not actually be on Hawaii Island, but we are taking this lead seriously out of genuine concern for local residents.” said Special Agent Tom Simon, spokesman for the FBI’s Honolulu office, referring to the island’s official name.
San Diego, who has been in hiding since 2003, was indicted in federal court in northern California the following year in connection with the pre-dawn bombings.
The bombings, which led to property damage but no injuries, are believed to be linked to San Diego’s militant animal rights views, said Peter Lee, spokesman for the FBI’s San Francisco office.
An entity calling itself the Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility for both attacks in statements posted to a pro-animal rights website, citing the firms’ alleged links to Huntingdon Life Sciences, which has been criticized by animal rights activists over its use of animal testing.
The FBI placed San Diego on its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list in 2009, making him the first suspected domestic militant on the list.
At the time of his disappearance, San Diego was a vegan who neither ate nor wore animal products, the FBI said in a statement. He may be supporting himself by working with computers, baking vegan food, or through his interest in sailing, the agency added.
Investigators had not initially intended to publicize their suspicion that San Diego was in Hawaii but were forced to go public when a surf shop operator who was questioned about the fugitive wrote about the investigation on her local news website on Monday, Simon said.
The FBI has previously received tips that he may be in parts of northern California and in western Massachusetts.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills