This is a weekly series that profiles America's most wanted criminals.
Daniel Andreas San Diego grew up in a safe and quiet suburb of San Francisco, the son of a city manager in California's affluent Marin County. Now 30, he swore off drugs and drink as a young man — and even milk and meat — but the straight-edge San Diego was no straight shooter.
"He looks like a personable young man," says David Strange, the FBI agent who's been following San Diego's case for five years. But San Diego's bespectacled face masks a violent hate that authorities say turned him into an eco-terrorist, a vicious vegan with an ax to grind.
Before dawn on Aug. 28, 2003, two homemade pipe bombs went off at the headquarters of Chiron Corporation, a biotechnology firm based in Emeryville, Calif. The second blast was time-delayed; the FBI suspects that may have been a tactic to harm emergency teams responding to the blast.
"They were well built, very sophisticated devices. They were not made with garbage — he actually went out and bought chemicals," said Strange. "You have to know what you're doing to build a bomb like this."
A month later, on Sept. 26, San Diego struck again, authorities say, this time leaving a bomb strapped with nails at the Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters of Shaklee Corporation, which makes eco-friendly products like vitamins and shampoos.
The FBI says San Diego, who was 25 at the time, targeted Chiron and Shaklee for their ties to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British-based research firm that performs laboratory testing on animals. The blasts caused damage to the buildings, but no people were hurt.
San Diego is a strict vegan and animal-rights activist who objects to animal testing. He's covered his body in tattoos of burning plains and buildings, including one on his chest that reads, "It only takes a spark."
Before the bombings, an animal rights group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty had been targeting Chiron and its employees with a wave of intimidation tactics meant to terrorize workers and drive the company out of business.
Other activists had been following workers to their homes and posting fliers accusing them of being "puppy killers." Some even went to the employees' children's schools and continued their intimidation there. But San Diego took his work further, authorities say.
"He's a very special case among people that practice animal rights extremism because, for the most part, they do not resort to bombing," Strange said.
The FBI determined San Diego's involvement after monitoring Internet postings taking credit for the attacks. "He had posted some writings on the Internet claiming responsibility," said Strange. "Not under his own name . . . in the name of animal rights."
The feds began tracking San Diego along the streets of San Francisco, closing in on the suspected terrorist. And then one October morning he stepped out of his green Honda and disappeared.
"He basically stopped his car on Market Street in San Francisco, got out and disappeared at rush hour," said Strange. "Most likely he was spooked. We were following him at the time."
That flight inaugurated a five-year search for San Diego that continues today. The FBI cautions that San Diego was known to own a 9mm handgun and is still a danger today. "He owned a gun and he did build bombs," said Strange. "He could still be a threat to any community he is in."
A federal arrest warrant was issued for San Diego in 2003, charging him with maliciously damaging and destroying buildings and other property with the bombs he allegedly constructed. There is a $250,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
"That's really, really high for someone like this," said Strange, referring to animal activists in general. "With Daniel Andreas San Diego, we look at it like terrorism, no different from any other terrorism," he said, explaining that it puts him in a different category of criminal.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact the FBI's San Francisco office at 415-553-7400.