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Jewish World Review April 24, 2000 /19 Nissan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports


Ecoterrorists on the loose -- ON THE WEB SITE of the Animal Liberation Front, one of the world's most militant ecological groups, eight animated bombs adorn the introductory page. The extremists at ALF don't plant trees for a living. They plant explosives. Welcome to the evil side of Earth Day activism -- the side that Leo DiCaprio, CNN, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Janet Reno choose to ignore.

The ALF organization likens itself to those "who freed the slaves of the South" and those "who broke down the gates of Hitler's death camps." The group's information service faithfully tracks and documents its members' actions around the world: "Animal Liberation Front Hits Neiman Marcus!" brags one headline. "Crop Experiments Damaged at University of Minnesota," announces another. Presumably striking a blow against gastric oppression, another news item reads: "Protesters Attack Field of Research Strawberries."

Attacking defenseless fruits and veggies is just a prelude for the ALF's masked goons. Last week, a spokesperson for the ALF and its radical ally, the Earth Liberation Front, sent out a communique calling on supporters "to hold militant demonstrations targeting U.S. federal buildings, embassies, etc." This "national day of action against government repression" is set for April 26.

Where's the alarm? Where's the emergency blue-ribbon panel? Where's the federal protection for ALF's targets? The White House has yet to condemn the left-wing hate talk of animal rights torchbearers. Attorney General Reno is mum, too, despite the ALF spokesperson's prediction during a network news interview of an increase in the number of ALF-related arsons -- "not only in the number of actions, but in the intensity of the actions."

If you think the ALF's call to arms is a harmless exercise in political free speech, think again. The ALF invites members to study an online, do-it-yourself manual called the "Final Nail," which helpfully "details several basic incendiary mixes from easily acquired materials, popular with ALF activists worldwide. There's also a handy guide called "Arson Around ... Getting the Job Done," which instructs fledgling ecoterrorists on illegal methods of "putting the heat on animal abusers everywhere."

For the past four years, the ALF and ELF have claimed credit for a score of arson fires and vandalism acts at federally funded research centers, private offices, farms, and on personal property. Arson at seven buildings on Colorado's Vail Mountain two years ago caused $12 million in damages. An arson at a Michigan State University lab last December cost an estimated $400,000 in damages. Various attacks in Oregon have resulted in more than $11 million in damages. Most recently, a string of six attacks on meat and fur vendors in the San Francisco Bay area last month caused at least half a million dollars in damages, an ALF press release boasted.

"We think this is great," gloated Kevin Keller of Freedom Offensive, a local animal rights group. ALF spokesperson David Barbarash echoed his approval: "Whoever these ALF activists are, they're doing a damn fine job of inflicting economic damages to these companies, and they should be rewarded for their courage and bravery!"

The federal government has done a miserable job so far of punishing anyone for the crimes. Frankie Trull of the D.C.-based Foundation for Biomedical Research, which monitors international ecoterrorism, told me this week that "while some members of Congress take the issue very seriously, I also think that the federal government has historically been very slow to move." Investigators have allowed the trail to grow cold, she says, and there is no national repository of information on the radical animal rights movement's activities.

With the exception of a smattering of local and national news articles about the ALF's reign of terror against family owned delis, restaurants, distributing companies, and other small businesses, the press has also been laggard. Trull notes that "in general, the media have been fairly sympathetic to the ALF's activities. They tend to cover animal-rights terrorism as an underdog effort." It's a misguided view of a movement that is largely "a bunch of thugs looking to smash things up."

When Southern churches are burned or abortion-clinic workers threatened, the public embraces a zero-tolerance policy. When ecoterrorists run wild, the message is clear: Go soft on politically correct crimes, and let the victims burn.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate