For other uses of the term 'ALF', see ALF (disambiguation).


The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a name used internationally by animal liberation activists who engage in direct action on behalf of animals. This includes removing animals from laboratories and fur farms, and sabotaging facilities involved in animal testing and other animal-based industries. According to ALF statements, any act that furthers the cause of animal liberation, where all reasonable precautions are taken not to harm any animal (human or otherwise), may be claimed as an ALF action.[2]

The ALF is not a group with a membership, but an example of a leaderless resistance, a banner for activists to use. ALF volunteers see themselves as the modern equivalent of the Underground Railroad, the 19th-century anti-slavery network, with activists removing animals from laboratories and farms, arranging safe houses and veterinary care, and operating sanctuaries where the animals live out the rest of their lives.[3] Covert cells, active in 38 countries, operate clandestinely and independently of one another, with activists working on a need-to-know basis.[4][5] A cell might consist of just one person. Robin Webb, who runs the Animal Liberation Press Office in the UK, has said: "That is why the ALF cannot be smashed, it cannot be effectively infiltrated, it cannot be stopped. You, each and every one of you: you are the ALF."[6]

Activists who speak on behalf of the ALF say the movement is non-violent. In Behind the Mask, a 2006 documentary, American activist Rod Coronado said: "One thing that I know that separates us from the people we are constantly accused of being — that is, terrorists, violent criminals — is the fact that we have harmed no one."[7] There has nevertheless been widespread criticism that ALF spokespersons and activists have either failed to condemn acts of violence or have themselves engaged in it. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors U.S. domestic extremism, has noted the involvement of ALF activists in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, which SPLC identifies as using "frankly terroristic tactics similar to those of anti-abortion extremist group, Army of God"[8] and in January 2005, the ALF was listed in a draft planning document as a domestic terrorist group by the United States Department of Homeland Security.[9]



Band of MercyEdit

Noel Molland writes that the ideas behind the ALF can be traced to 19th century England and a small group of activists from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).[10]

In 1824, Catherine Smithies, an anti-slavery activist, set up an RSPCA youth wing called the Bands of Mercy, a children's club modeled on the Temperance Society's Bands of Hope, which were aimed at getting children to campaign against drinking. The Bands of Mercy were intended to encourage children to love animals, although some of its members reportedly responded with more enthusiasm than the RSPCA intended, and became known for engaging in direct action against hunters by sabotaging their rifles.[11] In December 1963, John Prestige, a journalist from Brixham, Devon, revived the idea of organized direct action against hunts after he was assigned to cover a Devon and Somerset Staghounds event, where he watched hunters chase and kill a pregnant deer.[12][13] Prestige decided to form the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) — with the support of the League Against Cruel Sports, according to The Guardian — which evolved into groups of trained volunteers all over England who would thwart hunts by blowing horns and laying false scents to confuse the hounds.[14]

Molland writes that one of these HSA groups was led by a law student, Ronnie Lee, who formed his group in Luton in 1971. In 1972, Lee and a fellow activist, Cliff Goodman, decided more militant tactics were needed to stop hunts from ever starting, rather than simply diverting the dogs. They revived the name of the 19th-century RSPCA youth group, and set up the Band of Mercy, which attacked hunters' vehicles by slashing tires and breaking windows. The group called their form of activism "active compassion." Volunteers left notes on the vehicles explaining why they had been attacked, assuring the hunters that the attacks were not personal.[10]

First acts of arsonEdit

In 1973, the Band of Mercy learned that Hoechst Pharmaceuticals was building a new research laboratory near Milton Keynes, not far from the Band's Luton base. It decided to expand its activities and destroy the lab before it could be completed. On November 10, 1973, two activists set fire to the building, causing £26,000 worth of damage, and returning six days later to set fire to what was left of it. It was the animal liberation movement's first known act of arson. The Band claimed responsibility in a message to the press, identifying itself as a "nonviolent guerilla organization dedicated to the liberation of animals from all forms of cruelty and persecution at the hands of mankind."[15]

In June 1974, two Band of Mercy activists set fire to boats licensed by the Home Office to take part in the annual seal cull off the Norfolk coast, which Molland writes was the last time the cull took place. Between June and August 1974, it launched eight raids against animal-testing laboratories, and others against chicken breeders and gun shops, either damaging buildings or vehicles. Its first act of "animal liberation" took place during the same period, when activists removed half a dozen guinea pigs from a guinea pig farm in Wiltshire, which resulted in the owner closing her business, fearing further attacks.[15]

Then as now, the use of arson caused a split within the fledgling animal liberation movement. In July 1974, the Hunt Saboteurs Association offered a £250 reward for information leading to the identification of the Band of Mercy, telling the press, "We approve of their ideals, but are opposed to their methods."[15]

ALF formedEdit


File:ALF logo.svg

In August 1974, Lee and Goodman were arrested for taking part in a raid on Oxford Laboratory Animal Colonies in Bicester, earning them the moniker, the "Bicester Two." Daily demonstrations took place outside the court during their trial, and included Lee's local Labour MP, Ivor Clemitson.

They were sentenced to three years in prison, during which Lee went on the movement's first hunger strike in order to obtain vegan food and clothing. They were paroled after 12 months, with Lee emerging more militant than ever. In 1976, he organized the remaining Band of Mercy activists and gathered two dozen new recruits, 30 activists in all.[16]

Molland writes that the Band of Mercy name sounded wrong as a description of what Lee saw as a revolutionary movement. Lee wanted a name that would, Molland writes, "haunt" those who used animals. Thus, the Animal Liberation Front was born.[15]

Structure and aimsEdit


ALF cells are active in 38 countries, including North and South America, most European and Scandinavian countries, Australia, Israel, Malta, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.[4] The movement is entirely decentralized, with no formal membership or hierarchy, the absence of which acts as a firebreak when it comes to legal responsibility. "There is no office, there is no structure," one activist told Behind the Mask. "That's why the FBI is so frustrated, because they can't get their hands on it."[18][5]

Robin Webb, who runs the British Animal Liberation Press Office, writes that activists come from all walks of life, all ages, and "all beliefs and none."[19] Steven Best, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso and a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (NAALPO), describes ALF activism:


Volunteers are expected to stick to the ALF's stated aims when using its banner. Any direct action that contradicts these aims — and in particular the provision not to harm human or non-human life — may not be claimed as an ALF act:


The provision against physical violence has triggered allegations of hypocrisy from the ALF's critics, and bitter divisions within the movement about its meaning and importance. Steven Best and Jerry Vlasak, a California trauma surgeon who also volunteers for the North American press office, have both been banned from entering the UK after making statements that appeared to support violence.[20] Vlasak told an animal rights conferences in 2003: "I don't think you'd have to kill — assassinate — too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human animals."[21]

The nature of the ALF as a leaderless resistance means there is no way to gauge how much support Vlasak's position has with activists. An anonymous volunteer interviewed in 2005 for 60 Minutes told Ed Bradley: "[H]e doesn't operate with our endorsement or our support or our appreciation, the support of the ALF. We have a strict code of non-violence ... I don’t know who put Dr. Vlasak in the position he's in. It wasn't us, the ALF."[22]

Above-ground supporters and publicationsEdit


Template:See Although the ALF has no formal existence, a number of "above ground" groups exist to support volunteers and to publicize the direct action.

The Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALF SG) adopts volunteers in jail as "prisoners of conscience," writing to them or sending supplies. Anyone can join the ALF SG, which is based in London, for £2 a month.[23] Another group, the Vegan Prisoners Support Group, created in 1994 when Keith Mann was first jailed, works with prison authorities in the UK to ensure that jailed activists have access to vegan food and toiletries.[24][25]

The Animal Liberation Press Office receives and publicizes anonymous communiqués, including claims of responsibility.[26] It operates as an independent organization funded by public donations, although a High Court judge in England ruled in 2006 that it was "not a neutral reporting exercise or even simply a vehicle for apologists for the ALF, but a vital part of the ALF's strategy."[27]

There are three publications associated with the ALF. Arkangel is a British-based bi-annual magazine founded by Ronnie Lee and sold internationally. Bite Back is both a magazine and a website, where activists leave claims of responsibility.[28] No Compromise is a San Francisco-based website that also reports on ALF actions.

Philosophy of direct actionEdit

Template:See Template:Rquote ALF activists believe that animals should not be regarded as property, and that scientists and industry have no right to assume ownership of living beings who are each, in the words of philosopher Tom Regan, the "subject-of-a-life."[29] In the view of the ALF, to fail to recognize this is speciesism — the ascription of different values to beings on the basis of their species membership alone — which they argue is as ethically flawed as racism or sexism. They reject the animal welfarist position that more humane treatment is needed for animals; they say their aim is empty cages, not bigger ones. Activists argue that the animals they remove from laboratories or farms are "liberated," not "stolen," because they were never rightfully owned in the first place.[30]

Although the ALF rejects physical violence, many activists deny that attacks on property count as violent action, comparing the destruction of animal laboratories and other facilities to resistance fighters blowing up gas chambers in Nazi Germany.[31] Their argument for sabotage is that the removal of animals from a laboratory simply means they will be quickly replaced, but if the laboratory itself is destroyed, it not only slows down the restocking process, but increases costs, possibly to the point of making animal research prohibitively expensive. This, they argue, will encourage the search for alternatives. An ALF activist involved in an arson attack on the University of Arizona told No Compromise in 1996: "[I]t is much the same thing as the abolitionists who fought against slavery going in and burning down the quarters or tearing down the auction block ... Sometimes when you just take animals and do nothing else, perhaps that is not as strong a message."[32]

Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, has argued that ALF direct action can only be regarded as a just cause if non-violent, and that the ALF is at its most effective when uncovering evidence of animal abuse that other tactics probably could not expose.[33] He cites as an example the ALF raid on the University of Pennsylvania head-injury research clinic in 1984, during which footage shot by the researchers was removed, showing them laughing at conscious baboons as severe brain damage was inflicted on them. The university responded that the treatment of the animals conformed to National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines,[34] but as a result of the publicity, the lab was closed down, the chief veterinarian fired, and the university placed on probation.[35] Barbara Orlans, a former animal researcher with the NIH, now with the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, writes that the case stunned the biomedical community, and is today considered one of the most significant cases in the ethics of using animals in research.[34] Singer argues that if the ALF would focus on this kind of direct action, instead of sabotage, it would appeal to the "minds of reasonable people." Against this, Steven Best writes that industries and governments have too much institutional and financial bias for reason to prevail.[36]


Peter Hughes of the University of Sunderland cites a 1988 raid led by Barry Horne as an example of positive ALF direct action. Horne and four other activists decided to free Rocky the dolphin, who had lived in a small concrete pool in Marineland in Brighton for 20 years, by moving him 200 yards from his pool to the sea, using a ladder, a home-made stretcher, and a hired Mini Metro.[38][39] They were spotted by police with the dolphin stretcher for which, as one of the activists put it, "we had no legitimate explanation."[37] They were convicted of conspiracy to steal, but continued to campaign for Rocky's release. Marineland eventually agreed to sell him for £120,000, money that was raised with the help of the Born Free Foundation and the Mail on Sunday, and in 1991, Rocky was transferred to an 80-acre lagoon reserve in the Turks and Caicos Islands, then released.[40][41] Hughes writes that the ALF action helped to create a paradigm shift in the UK toward seeing dolphins as "individual actors," as a result of which, he writes, there are now no captive dolphins in the UK.[42]

Tactics and ideology, 1976–1996Edit

Main article: Timeline of Animal Liberation Front actions, 1976-1999

Early tactics and public responseEdit

Rachel Monaghan of the University of Ulster writes that, in their first year of operation alone, ALF actions accounted for £250,000 worth of damage, targeting butchers shops, furriers, circuses, slaughterhouses, breeders, and fast-food restaurants. She writes that the ALF philosophy was that "violence" can only take place against sentient life forms, and therefore focusing on property destruction and the removal of animals from laboratories and farms was consistent with a philosophy of non-violence, despite the damage they were causing.[16] Writing in 1974, Ronnie Lee was insistent that direct action be "limited only by reverence of life and hatred of violence,"[43] and in 1979, he wrote that many ALF raids had been called off because of the risk to life.[44]

Kim Stallwood writes that the public's response to early ALF raids that removed animals was very positive, in large measure because of the non-violence policy. When Mike Huskisson removed three beagles from a tobacco study at ICI in June 1975, the media portrayed him as something of a hero.[45][46] Robin Webb writes that ALF volunteers were viewed as the "Robin Hoods of the animal welfare world."[47]

This glamorization of the movement attracted a new breed of activist, Stallwood writes. They were younger, often unemployed, and more interested in anarchism than in animal liberation per se, seeing it as part of their opposition to the state, rather than as an end in itself. According to Stallwood, these new activists did not want to adhere to non-violence.[45]

ALF SG and its relationship with the BUAVEdit

Template:See In the early 1980s, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, a respected anti-vivisection group founded by Frances Power Cobbe in 1898, was a strong supporter of the ALF. Kim Stallwood was BUAV's national organizer from 1981-1986. He writes that the BUAV donated part of its office space rent-free to the ALF Supporters Group, which included Ronnie Lee, and gave ALF actions uncritical publicity in its newspaper, The Liberator.

Despite the support, it became clear that the ALF SG, with its new anarchist membership, was attempting to take over the board of the BUAV. Stallwood writes that, as anarchists, they believed all political action to be a waste of time, and wanted the BUAV to devote its resources exclusively to direct action. Whereas the earliest activists had been committed to rescuing animals and destroying property only where the latter contributed to the former, by the mid-1980s, he believed the ALF had lost its ethical foundation, and had become "an opportunity for misfits and misanthropes" to "seek personal revenge for some perceived social injustice."[48] He writes: "Where was the intelligent debate about tactics and strategies that went beyond the mindless rhetoric and emotional elitism pervading much of the self-produced direct action literature? In short, what had happened to the animals' interests?"[48]

In 1984, the BUAV board reluctantly voted to expel the ALF SG from its premises and withdraw its political support, after which, Stallwood writes, the ALF became increasingly isolated.[48]

The emergence of a violent factionEdit

Monaghan writes that, around 1982, there was a noticeable shift in the non-violent position, and not one approved by everyone in the movement. Some activists began to make personal threats against individuals, followed by letter bombs and threats to contaminate food, the latter representing yet another shift to threatening the general public, rather than specific targets.[16]

In 1982, letter bombs were sent to all four major party leaders, including the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. In November 1984, the first major food scare was carried out, with the ALF claiming in phone calls and letters to the media that it had contaminated Mars Bars — part of a campaign to force the Mars company to stop conducting tooth decay tests on monkeys.[49] On November 17, the Sunday Mirror received a call from the ALF saying it had injected Mars Bars in stores throughout the country with rat poison. The call was followed by a letter containing a Mars Bar, presumed to be contaminated, and the claim that these were on sale in London, Leeds, York, Southampton, and Coventry. Millions of bars were removed from shelves and Mars halted production, at a cost to the company of $4.5 million.[50][51] The ALF admitted the claims had been a hoax. Similar contamination claims were later made against L'Oreal and Lucozade.[52]

Animal Rights MilitiaEdit



The letter bombs to politicians were claimed by the Animal Rights Militia (ARM).[54] The Mars Bar hoax is now also attributed by newspapers to the ARM, although the initial report by David Mellor, then a Home Office minister, to the House of Commons on November 19, 1984 was clear that it was the Animal Liberation Front who had claimed responsibility.[50] This is an early example of the shifting of responsibility from one banner to another, depending on the nature of the act, with the ARM and another nom de guerre, the Justice Department — the latter first used in 1993 — emerging as names that activists used for direct action that failed the ALF's "no harm to living beings" principle. Ronnie Lee, who had earlier insisted on the importance of the ALF's non-violence policy, seemed to support the idea. An article signed by RL — presumed to be Ronnie Lee — in the October 1984 ALF Supporters Group newsletter, suggested that activists set up "fresh groups ... under new names whose policies do not preclude the use of violence toward animal abusers."[55]

No activist is known to have conducted operations under both the ALF and ARM banners, but overlap is nevertheless assumed. Paul Wilkinson, a terrorism expert, has written that the ALF, the Justice Department, and the ARM are essentially the same,[56] and Robert Garner of the University of Leicester writes that it would be pointless to argue otherwise, given the nature of the movement as a leaderless resistance. Robin Webb of the British Animal Liberation Press Office has acknowledged that the activists may be the same people: "If someone wishes to act as the Animal Rights Militia or the Justice Department, simply put, the ... policy of the Animal Liberation Front, to take all reasonable precautions not to endanger life, no longer applies."[53]

From 1983 onwards, a series of fire bombs exploded in department stores that sold fur, with the intention of triggering the sprinkler systems in order to cause damage, although several stores were partly or completely destroyed.[57] In September 1985, incendiary devices were placed under the cars of Dr. Sharat Gangoli and Dr. Stuart Walker, both animal researchers with the British Industrial Biological Research Association (BIBRA), wrecking both vehicles but with no injuries, and with the ARM claiming responsibility. In January 1986, the ARM said it had placed devices under the cars of four employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences, timed to explode an hour apart from each other. A further device was placed under the car of Dr. Andor Sebesteny, a researcher for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund which he spotted before it was able to explode.[54]

Leaderless resistance and the danger of false flagsEdit


In February 1989, an explosion damaged the Senate House bar at Bristol University, an attack claimed by the unknown "Animal Abused Society." In June 1990, two days apart, bombs exploded in the cars of Margaret Baskerville, a veterinary surgeon working at Porton Down, a chemical research defence establishment, and Patrick Max Headley, a psychologist at Bristol University. Baskerville escaped without injury on June 9 by jumping through the window of her mini-jeep when a bomb using a mercury-tilt device exploded next to the fuel tank. During the attack on Headley on Sunday, June 10, which New Scientist writes involved the use of plastic explosives, a 13-month-old baby passing by in a stroller was seriously injured with reported flash burns, a partially severed finger, and shrapnel wounds to his back.[58][59][60]

No known name claimed responsibility for the attacks on Baskerville and Headley, which were condemned within the animal rights movement and by ALF activists. Keith Mann writes that it didn't seem plausible that activists known for making simple incendiary devices from household components would suddenly switch to mercury-tilt switches and plastic explosives, then never be heard from again.[61]

A few days after the bombings, the unknown "British Animal Rights Society" claimed responsibility for having attached a nail bomb to a huntsman's Land Rover in Somerset. Forensic evidence led police to arrest the owner of the vehicle, who admitted he had bombed his own car to discredit the animal rights movement, and asked for two similar offences to be taken into consideration. He was jailed for nine months. The Baskerville and Headley bombers were never apprehended, and although many in the movement believe they were false flag operations — operations conducted by agents provocateur to discredit the ALF — no evidence of that ever emerged.[61]

The incidents underline the risk and uncertainty of working as a leaderless resistance, which sees the ALF name exposed to actions carried out by activists not fully committed to the ALF's non-violent platform, and possibly by opponents intent on making the ALF look as violent as possible. That same uncertainty also provides genuine ALF activists with plausible deniability should an operation go wrong, by denying that the act was "authentically ALF."[62]

Development of the ALF in the U.S.Edit

Main article: Britches (monkey)

There are conflicting accounts of when the ALF first emerged in the United States.

The FBI writes that animal rights activists had a history of committing "low-level criminal activity" in the U.S. dating back to the 1970s.[65] Freeman Wicklund and Kim Stallwood say the first ALF action there was on May 29, 1977, when researchers Ken LeVasseur and Steve Sipman released two dolphins, Puka and Kea, into the ocean at Yokohama Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, from captivity in the University of Hawaii's Marine Mammal Laboratory.[66][67][68]

The North American Animal Liberation Press Office attributes the dolphin release to a group called Undersea Railroad, and says the first ALF action was, in fact, a raid on the New York University Medical Center on March 14, 1979, when activists removed one cat, two dogs, and two guinea pigs.[69][70]

Kathy Snow Guillermo writes in Monkey Business that the first ALF action was the removal on September 22, 1981 of the so-called Silver Spring monkeys, seventeen lab monkeys being cared for by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), after a researcher who had been working on them was arrested for alleged violations of cruelty legislation. When the court ruled that the monkeys be returned to the researcher, they mysteriously disappeared, only to reappear five days later, when activists learned that, without the monkeys, legal action against the researcher could not proceed.[64]


Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, writes that the first ALF cell was set up in late 1982, after a police officer she calls "Valerie" responded to the publicity triggered by the Silver Spring monkeys case, and flew to England to ask to be trained by the ALF. Posing as a reporter, she was put in touch with Ronnie Lee by Kim Stallwood, who at that time was working for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). Lee reportedly directed her to a training camp, where she was taught how to break into laboratories. Newkirk writes that Valerie returned to Maryland, and set up an ALF cell, with the first raid taking place on December 24, 1982 against Howard University, where 24 cats were removed, some of whose back legs had been crippled.[71][66][72][73]

Two early ALF raids led to the closure of several university studies. A raid on May 28, 1984 on the University of Pennsylvania's head injury clinic caused $60,000 worth of damage and saw the removal of 60 hours of tapes, which showed the researchers laughing and joking as they used a hydraulic device to cause brain damage to baboons.[74][34] The tapes were turned over to PETA, who produced a 26-minute video called Unnecessary Fuss. As a result of the publicity, the head injury clinic was closed, the university's chief veterinarian was fired, the university was put on probation, the administration of the program was reorganized, and new training programs for staff were instituted.[75]

On April 20, 1985, acting on a tip-off from a student, the ALF raided a University of California, Riverside laboratory, causing nearly $700,000 worth of damage, and removing 468 animals.[76][77][78] These included Britches, a five-week old macaque monkey, who had been separated from his mother at birth and left alone with his eyes sewn shut, and a sonar device on his head, as part of a study into blindness. As a result of the raid, which was recorded by the ALF (video), eight of the 17 research projects active at the laboratory at the time of the raid were shut down.[74] University officials said that "years of medical research were lost."[79] The raid prompted Dr. James Wyngaarden, the head of the National Institutes of Health to argue that raids on laboratories should be regarded as acts of terrorism.[80]

In 1993, ALF was listed as an organization that has "claimed to have perpetrated acts of extremism in the United States" in the Report to Congress on the Extent and Effects of Domestic and International Terrorism on Animal Enterprises. A quote from ALF opened the report, and statements of ALF activity were repeatedly used as examples. [81]

The "second wave": 1996 to the presentEdit


Timeline of Animal Liberation Front actions: 2000-2004 and 2005-Present

Violence against property began to increase substantially after several high-profile campaigns managed to close down a number of facilities perceived to be abusive to animals — Consort Kennels, a facility breeding beagles for animal testing; Hillgrove Farm, which bred cats, and Newchurch Farm, which bred guinea pigs, were all closed after being targeted by animal rights campaigns that appeared to involve the ALF. In the UK, the financial year 1991-1992 saw around 100 refrigerated meat trucks destroyed by incendiary devices at a cost of around £5 million. Butchers' locks were superglued, shrink-wrapped meats were pierced in supermarkets, slaughterhouses and refrigerated meat trucks were set on fire.[82] Template:Rquote In 1999, ALF activists became involved in the international Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign to close Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), Europe's largest animal-testing laboratory.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors U.S. domestic extremism, has described SHAC's modus operandi as "frankly terroristic tactics similar to those of anti-abortion extremists."[8] ALF activist Donald Currie, for example, was jailed for 12 years and placed on probation for life in December 2006 after being found guilty of planting homemade bombs on the doorsteps of businessmen with links to HLS.[83] HLS director Brian Cass was attacked by men wielding pick-axe handles in February 2001, an attack so serious that Detective Chief Inspector Tom Hobbs of Cambridgeshire police said it was only by sheer luck that they were not starting a murder inquiry.[84] David Blenkinsop was one of those convicted of the attack, someone who in the past had conducted actions in the name of the ALF.[85] In its public statements, the ALF makes no secret of its commitment to the SHAC campaign, which it made clear in May 2005, issuing a warning on behalf of SHAC:


In June 2006, the ALF claimed responsibility for a firebomb attack on UCLA researcher Lynn Fairbanks. The Animal Liberation Press Office issued a statement saying that Fairbanks was conducting "painful addiction experiments" on monkeys,[86]. Fairbanks stated that she studies primate behavior and does not do invasive research.[87] A firebomb was placed on the doorstep of a house occupied by Fairbanks' 70 year-old neighbor and a tenant; according to the FBI, the device was lit, and was powerful enough to have killed the occupants, but it failed to ignite. The attack was credited by the acting chancellor of UCLA as helping to shape the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a bill before the U.S. Congress to give law enforcement officials more power when dealing with animal rights activism.[88] ALF spokesman Jerry Vlasak said of the attack on Fairbanks: "force is a poor second choice, but if that's the only thing that will work ... there's certainly moral justification for that."[89] In July 2008 Vlasak said that he said he is not encouraging anyone to commit murder, but "if you had to hurt somebody or intimidate them or kill them, it would be morally justifiable."[90]

As of 2008 the organization was increasingly taking protests to the homes of researchers. Tactics used have been hurling insults and writing slogans on the researchers' property. One of the organizations websites lists personal information and graphic descriptions of alleged work of University of California, Berkeley researchers while saying "we do not participate in or encourage illegal activity. [90] " Jerry Vlasak stated that the attacks were "necessary" and that it is unreasonable not to expect such consequences. [91]

Extensional self-defenseEdit


Steven Best has coined the term "extensional self-defense" to describe actions carried out in defense of animals by human beings acting as "proxy agents."[92] He argues that, in carrying out acts of extensional self-defense, activists have the moral right to engage in acts of sabotage or even violence.[92] Extensional self-defense is justified, he writes, because animals are "so vulnerable and oppressed they cannot fight back to attack or kill their oppressors."[93]

Best argues that the principle of extensional self defense mirrors the penal code statues known as the "necessity defense," which can be invoked when a defendant believes that the illegal act was necessary to avoid imminent and great harm.[93] In testimony to the Senate in 2005, Jerry Vlasak stated that he regarded violence against Huntingdon Life Sciences as an example of extensional self-defense.[94]

Listing as a domestic terrorist groupEdit

The ALF was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security in January 2005.[95] In hearings held on May 18, 2005 before a Senate panel, officials of the FBI and ATF stated that "violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists now pose one of the most serious terrorism threats to the nation," adding that "of particular concern are the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)."[96][97] In the UK in 1998, Paul Wilkinson, former director of the University of St Andrews Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, said that the ALF and its splinter groups were the "most serious domestic terrorist threat within the United Kingdom," and that the ALF is "very close" to killing someone.[98]

The Southern Poverty Law Center has criticized the Department of Homeland Security for concentrating on the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts rather than on white supremacists, writing that "for all the property damage they have wreaked, eco-radicals have killed no one — something that cannot be said of the white supremacists and others who people the American radical right."[99] Senator James Jeffords said that the "ELF and ALF may threaten dozens of people each year, but an incident at a chemical, nuclear or wastewater facility would threaten tens of thousands."[96]

Operation BackfireEdit

Main article: Operation Backfire (FBI)
Further information: ALF and ELF cooperation

On January 20, 2006, as part of Operation Backfire, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against nine American and two Canadian activists supposedly calling themselves the "family", who are alleged to have engaged in direct action in the name of the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. The Department of Justice called the acts examples of "domestic terrorism." Environmental and animal rights activists have referred to the legal action as the Green Scare.

The incidents included arson attacks against meat-processing plants, lumber companies, a high-tension power line, and a ski center, in Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, California, and Colorado between 1996 and 2001.[100]

See alsoEdit



Further readingEdit

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