The feds have done it again - this time they've busted 7 members of the US contingent of SHAC:
NEWARK, N.J. -- Federal agents in four states on Wednesday arrested seven people charged with organizing a campaign of intimidation and harassment against a British company that tests pharmaceuticals on animals.
Those arrested are charged in an indictment against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA that was unsealed with the arrests.
The nonprofit group and the individuals are charged in a multiyear conspiracy to terrorize Huntingdon Life Sciences, which has labs in New Jersey. The charge carries up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Their actions included "telephone and e-mail blitzes, fax blitzes and computer blockades against HLS in order to divert HLS employees from their regular work," the indictment charged.
The group and three of the suspects are also charged with conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking and three counts of interstate stalking. Each of those charges carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The stalking charges accuse the activists of placing three people, and their families, in fear of death or injury.
[ . . . ]
The indictment charged that SHAC targeted Huntingdon workers and shareholders, as well as companies that provide services to Huntingdon, by posting personal information about targets on its Web sites and encouraging followers to "operate outside the confines of the legal system."
Protesters have appeared at the homes of at least three Huntingdon employees after such postings, overturning a car at one house and slashing tires and spray-painting slogans at another, the indictment said.
In December, computer hackers disabled the Huntingdon Web site. The SHAC Web site attributed the attack to Russian computer hackers, the indictment said.
[ . . . ]
Other attacks described in the indictment included a barrage of more than 2 million e-mails sent in a few hours on July 11, 2001, to a Jersey City brokerage that handled Huntingdon stock, damaging its operations.
The brokerage, which was not named, got a letter Sept. 10, 2002, from one of the suspects, asserting that if the brokerage stopped handling Huntingdon "this should bring a prompt end to the phone calls and faxes and e-mails your company is receiving."
The arrests came just over a year after the members of the FBI's domestic terrorism squad raided SHAC's headquarters in Franklin Township as well as a house near the University of Washington in Seattle, seizing computers and printed materials.
Among those arrested Wednesday in Seattle was a resident of that house, Joshua Harper, a self-proclaimed anarchist and longtime animal-rights activists.
Others captured were Kevin Kjonas (SHAC's president), Lauran Gazzola (SHAC campaign coordinator), Jacob Conroy, Darius Fullmer, John McGee and Andrew Stepanian.
We learn a little more here :
The 27-page indictment says SHAC-USA recommended and publicized on its Web site "top 20 terror tactics," including invading offices, vandalizing property, firebombing cars, stealing documents, physical assault, spraying cleaning fluid into someone's eyes, smashing the windows of a target's home, and threatening to kill someone's partner or children. The indictment described numerous such incidents carried out against employees of Huntingdon and other companies in the United States since 2001.
"This is not activism. This is a group of lawless thugs attacking innocent men, women, and children," said Christopher J. Christie, US attorney for New Jersey, in a statement yesterday. "We will not stand by and let any group or individuals violate federal law through violence and intimidation, no matter what cause they profess to advocate for in the process."
(According to ConsumerFreedom.com, Joshua Harper's goal is “the complete collapse of industrial civilization" by virtually any means. He has a history of violence and has served time in the slammer. Oh yes - his "support committee" received $5,000 from PeTA.)
I've written fairly often about SHAC and their fiendishly effective tactics of intimidation and coercion. You can get a flavor of how they do their thugish thing here and here. They're just a group of shakedown artists who have tailored their tactics for ideological ends, rather than financial ones.
I'm very glad this is happening. I hope that the government can make its case, and I suspect they'll be successful. The US, after all, has begun taking terrorism seriously since the events of 9/11.
Having said that, I think we need to keep in mind how useful the violently confrontational groups are to groups like PeTA. What I mean by this is that groups like SHAC, ELF and ALF by their violent nature make PeTA and their often ridiculous escapades appear to be far less threatening than they really are.
For their part, PeTA helps things along with their disingenuous propaganda. For example, in the face of even the most violent acts, PeTA spokesmen will cluck that while they "don't condone" violent methods (notice that "not to condone" is fundamentally different than "to condemn"), they can nevertheless understand why some people would believe violence to be necessary ("Given all the torture and abuse the animals experience at that hands of ... ").
It's important to appreciate, though, that when the more "acceptable" PeTA or one of it's splinter groups gets serious and targets a person or an organization, they subject their target to a living hell that is every bit as bad as what is experienced by the people of the large corporations. In particular, PeTA is especially good at deceptively controlling the message and manipulating both the media and the legal system, and effect on the target is devastating and everlasting (see here and here). When we're incandescent with joy that the feds have busted a few SHAC-USA people, we can't lose sight of the fact that groups that don't publicize their threats act just as viciously and destructively as those that do.
There's a second point to be made. And that is that the term "terrorist" certainly does apply to the people of SHAC, ALF, ELF and other such groups, and "terrorism" is a tool they employ. True, what they do isn't on the scale of slamming planes into buildings - but the goal and the tactics of these radical groups are pretty much the same: Do things our way, or risk the consequences:
"We gave all of the customers the chance, the choice, to withdraw their business from HLS. Now you all will have to reap what you have sown. All customers and their families are considered legitimate targets," said an e-mail posted at the end of September on several web sites from a group identifying itself as the Revolutionary Cells of the Animal Liberation Brigade. "Hey Sean Lance (Chiron chairman), and the rest of the Chiron team, how are you sleeping? You never know when your house, your car even, might go boom. Who knows, that new car in the parking lot may be packed with explosives. Or maybe it will be a shot in the dark."
Finally, at least in the US (Britain seems more tolerant) it's important to realize that calling attention to, condemning and prosecuting violent wrongdoers (if caught) is a fairly straightforward legal and moral process: the public generally rejects the tactics of terror and violence regardless of the cause. So in at least one sense, these violent people are the easy enemy - easy because they proclaim themselves our enemies and openly announce their willingness to pursue their goals violently.
The far more insidious challenge - I believe one that is at least as great a danger - comes from the environmental and Animal Rights groups who have inserted their ideology into into our schools seemingly without notice, and - I hasten to add - without that ideology facing an opposing view (see here, here, here and here [Last 2 links added 6/21/05]).
Thanks to Pam R., Vicci A., and David S. for the tips.
UPDATE: The people busted by the feds are SHAC heavyweights, as you can verify by Googling each name + SHAC.
There's more - and it's chilling - here:
Among other methods, SHAC recommended "direct actions" that included its "top 20 terror tactics" to intimidate and harass and to destroy personal and real property, as described on its websites.
[ . . . ]
Among SHAC's "top 20 terror tactics" recommended and publicized on its websites: invading offices, vandalizing property and stealing documents; physical assault, including spraying cleaning fluid into someone's eyes; smashing windows of a target's home or flooding the home while the individual was away; vandalizing or firebombing cars and bomb hoaxes; and threatening telephone calls or letters, including threats to kill or injure someone's partner or children.
The 27 page indictment - in its fascinating and easily-read entirety - can be downloaded in PDF format here.