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Extremists

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V_Key

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May 18, 2005

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Holds Hearing on Animal and Eco Extremists

The FBI told a Senate committee this morning that attacks by animal rights and environmental extremists are growing in frequency, size, and threat.

“Harassing phone calls and vandalism now co-exist with improvised explosive devices and personal threats to employees,” John E. Lewis, FBI Deputy Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He noted that from January 1990 to June 2004, animal and environmental rights extremists have claimed credit for more than 1,200 criminal incidents, resulting in millions of dollars in damage and monetary loss. Currently, 35 FBI offices have over 150 pending investigations associated with animal rights/eco-terror activities.

Lewis continued, “While most animal rights and eco-extremists have refrained from violence targeting human life, the FBI has observed troubling signs that this is changing. We have seen an escalation in violent rhetoric and tactics. One extremist recently said, ‘If someone is killing, on a regular basis, thousands of animals, and that person can only be stopped in one way by the use of violence, then it is certainly a morally justifiable solution’.”

He told the Committee that “preventing criminal activity has become increasingly difficult because the extremists in these movements are very knowledgeable about the letter of the law and the limits of law enforcement. Moreover, they are highly autonomous. Lists of targets and instructions on making incendiary devices are posted on the Internet but criminal incidents are carried out by individuals or small groups acting unilaterally. Criminal activity by animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists in particular requires relatively minor amounts of equipment and minimal funding. Extremists of these movements adhere to strict security measures in both their communications and their operations.”

Lewis’s full testimony may be read on the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress05/lewis051805.htm

Lewis was joined on the law enforcement panel by Carson W. Carroll, Deputy Assistant Director, Field Operations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Carroll noted that “ELF and ALF are engaged in substantial intelligence gatherings against animal or environmental businesses and share this information at rallies, protests and on the Internet. They also secure employment with an animal or environmental business for the purpose of gaining inside intelligence for raids or other forms of illegal ‘direct action’.” He added, “ELF and ALF activists rely upon the publicity generated by their attacks to bring attention to their causes and thereby win converts for their movements. However, ELF and ALF’s ‘direct action’ is unique as they typically use fire as their weapon.”

Carroll said that since 1987 ATF has initiated over 100 investigations related to the ALF and ELF, some involving explosive incidents as well as acts of arson. He said that the magnitude of the incidents now appears to be on the rise. Between 1999 and 2005, ATF opened 58 investigations related to ELF and ALF acts of violence.
Carroll’s complete testimony may be read on the ATF site at http://www.atf.gov/press/speech/fy05/051805carroll-statement.htm

University of Iowa President David Skorton testified about the November 2004 break-in of campus research labs and offices, claimed by the Animal Liberation Front, that resulted in about $450,000 in damages. Over 300 purpose-bred rodents were stolen, laboratory equipment was smashed and overturned, offices were vandalized, and hazardous chemicals poured over books and papers. “Though the destruction was to research equipment and materials,” President Skorton testified, “it is clear from the videos the group [that carried out the attack] provided to the media that the message of fear and intimidation was meant for a much larger audience – the University as a whole and the general public.” He called the raid “purely and simply a criminal act meant to disrupt an endeavor which is highly valued by our society.”

While he said that the illegal tactics have been unsuccessful at stopping research at the University, there has been some impact of the crimes by what he called a group of vandals acting in the dark of night, taking no responsibility for their actions. “First, the environment for researchers at The University of Iowa has been permanently altered. These researchers, who have devoted their careers to fundamental and applied research directed at increasing the corpus of life science knowledge and improving health for animals and humans, now live lives of fear and anger. Second, the University and federal and state taxpayers indirectly have had to spend funds that were, in essence, wasted on the sequelae of this action rather than on advancing the state of animal and human health. This, no doubt, was part of the strategy of the organization at work. Third, in the wake of many other national security issues, this action and others like it add to the increasingly significant changes in the openness of American university campuses. No longer can those of us in positions of responsibility consider our campuses to be largely open areas, and we must increasingly consider security concerns that affect the openness of the environment.”

“Most importantly,” Skorton concluded, “What has not changed and will not change is that The University of Iowa is completely and unalterably committed to allowing faculty, staff and students to purse their chosen research that is scientifically sound, legal and humane.”

Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe, (R-OK) asserted his belief that “there is a financial relationship between these terrorists and mainstream groups.” A witness on the second panel, David Martosko, Director of Research at the Center for Consumer Freedom, submitted 36 exhibits in an effort to document linkage between the ALF and PETA, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). His testimony and the exhibits may be found on the Center for Consumer Freedom’s website at http://www.consumerfreedom.com/downloads/promotional/docs/050518_MartoskoSenateTestimony.pdf

Also testifying were Bradley Campbell, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, and Monty McIntyre of Garden Communities, developer of an apartment complex destroyed by the ELF in 2003.

Senator Inhofe told the standing-room only audience that Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder, and Steven Best, an ALF spokesperson, had been invited to testify. Newkirk turned down the invitation but stated she would provide the Committee with information. Best refused to cooperate.

The Committee’s investigation is continuing.


Americans for Medical Progress
908 King Street, Suite 301 w Alexandria, VA 22314 w 703.836.9595
[email protected] w www.amprogress.org
 

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