SAN FRANCISCO » The FBI said Wednesday agents are hunting in Hawaii for the nation’s most wanted domestic terrorism suspect.
The FBI office in San Francisco said the agency received "credible intelligence" that Daniel Andreas San Diego might be on the Big Island. Agents are searching for him in the island’s eastern district of Puna and in the small, eclectic town of Pahoa.
San Diego, 36, is suspected to be an animal rights extremist. He is charged with exploding pipe bombs in front of two San Francisco Bay Area companies with ties to a lab that conducted animal experiments.
San Diego is atop the FBI’s list of most-wanted domestic terrorists, and the agency is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Kai Sorte, who manages an organic deli in Pahoa, said FBI agents had visited the small, countercultural town about 18 months ago in search of San Diego. Sorte said he was interviewed again Monday and said FBI agents believe San Diego is looking for "some sort of cause or movement" to join.
"This town is a melting pot of a lot of different cultures," Sorte said.
Sorte said the agents didn’t say why they returned to Pahoa.
FBI spokesman Peter Lee declined to comment on the nature of the "credible intelligence" that compelled agents from San Francisco to travel to Hawaii in search of San Diego.
This is the second and most specific alert the FBI has issued for him since he disappeared in October 2003 in San Francisco while being tailed by FBI agents. In 2011 the FBI said it had "substantive and credible" information that San Diego might have been in western Massachusetts after it received a tip prompted by an airing of the case on the television show "America’s Most Wanted."
San Diego’s image appeared on electronic billboards from California to New York, including above Times Square, for about a week earlier this month.
Late last year, the FBI called on the public’s help in locating San Diego, who was raised in an upper-middle class suburb of Marin County north of San Francisco.
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 Wednesday. He has declined to talk about his son in the past.
San Diego, who was under 24-hour surveillance, gave the FBI the slip on the afternoon of Oct. 6, 2003, in downtown San Francisco.
He is charged with setting off three bombs at the two companies in the wee hours. No one was injured, and minor damage was done to the buildings, including shattered windows.
Two pipe bomb explosions struck an hour apart at biotechnology company Chiron Corp. on Aug. 28, 2003, and investigators said the second bomb was set to injure first responders. A bomb strapped with nails exploded at cosmetic maker Shaklee Corp. on Sept. 26, 2003.
The search for San Diego has spanned the globe. FBI officials have said they’ve talked with authorities in Germany, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Chile.
San Diego has ties to animal rights extremist groups and is a vegan who doesn’t eat food containing animal products, according to the FBI.
He also has unusual tattoos, the FBI says, including a round image of burning hillsides on his chest with the words "It only takes a spark" written below. The sides of his abdomen and back have images of burning and collapsing buildings.
San Diego has worked as a computer network specialist and with the Linux operating system and is skilled at sailing.