Animal Rights extremists in the UK are now broadening the range of their targets. They will now target airports, or at least, the companies who transport research animals and supplies by air, using their familiar tactic of terrorizing the family members of company employees:
ANIMAL rights extremists have opened a violent campaign against BAA, the company that runs most of Britain’s big airports, for its role in importing live animals for laboratory research.
Attackers have caused damage worth tens of thousands of pounds to the homes and vehicles of senior managers at BAA and other firms they claim are involved in importing animals.
Each year, thousands of mice, birds, monkeys and other animals are imported through airports for use in medical experiments.
An anti-import campaign was launched in December by a protest group called Gateway to Hell with co-ordinated demonstrations at Heathrow and Manchester airports. The campaign is targeting BAA, Air France, Air Mauritius and the Dover Port Authority. Air Mauritius denies it imports animals.
The group is linked to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac), which has co-ordinated years of protests against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a medical testing company based near Cambridge.
Four days after the new campaign began, unknown assailants attacked the homes and vehicles of five air transport executives including Margaret Ewing, 49, group finance director of BAA.
In all five attacks, homes were spray-painted and a total of 14 cars vandalised with paint-stripper or by having their tyres slashed.
Three cars in Ewing’s drive were badly damaged. Graffiti was daubed on the walls of her home saying: “You are now a target for us, you will not win.”
Ewing, who is married with children, said last week: “They did some criminal damage, which was very upsetting, and my family are simply trying to get over what happened.”
Once again the True Believers, the Holy Warriors, terrorize families.
BAA held a meeting with police last week to discuss security for its staff. The company has altered records kept at Companies House to remove the home addresses of its directors on security grounds. This is not infallible — last week it was possible to obtain online archives with home addresses.
Others attacked on the same night as Ewing included John Hextall, 48, a director of UTi, a freight-forwarding company. UTi believes its directors were targeted because it had delivered four shipments of vaccine from Heathrow to HLS, which uses animals to test products on behalf of drug companies.
Other UTi directors have received threatening letters from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) at their home addresses warning of “more visible signs of action” if the firm did not halt trade with HLS. As a result, UTi has said it will no longer do business with HLS.
Other attacks have been launched against directors of Benair and the Charles Kendall Group, both of which are freight companies. UPS, which has also worked with HLS, has seen demonstrations at its depots, including those in Crawley, Peterborough and Coventry. Benair issued a statement after the attack denying it had ever had any connection with importing live animals.
Last night Brian Cass, managing director of HLS, said the new attacks were not just directed against his company, but were aimed at stopping all animals coming into the country for medical research.
“This is aimed at companies, universities and the entire medical research community,” said Cass. “The government needs urgently to put serious resources into combating these people.”
Mr. Cass knows whereof he speaks. The extremists have used their campaign against HLS for researching, developing and perfecting their tactics, much like a scientist would use a lab. Their strategy is remarkably simple, and disturbingly effective: 1) understand that no company can survive without clients or suppliers; 2) demonize that company; 3) identify the suppliers and clients of your target; 4) demonize them; 5) identify the employees of the supplier/client company, and their families; 6) terrorize these folks any way you can: use coercion, intimidation and threats, vandalize their property, make obscene phone calls, make false accusations (pedophilia is a favorite) distribute personal information (kids names, schools attended, home addresses, etc) by website and handbills; 7) suggest that the terror might stop if the employees' company breaks relations with the primary target.
Though HLS hasn't exactly folded, many of those doing business with HLS have been intimidated into breaking with HLS, and HLS had to delist in the UK.
And, of course, given the success that SHAC and its fellow travelers have had so far, it is no wonder at all that they might find it useful to broaden their base of targets.
And it does look like it will have to be the government that acts, since the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) reneged on it's prior assurances that it would contribute up to £10m to combat "Investment Terrorism," a reversal of position that left them looking, at least in my book, to be either incompetent or maliciously deceptive. Or both.
Which is a pity, since they could have been immeasurably effective, at low financial cost to themselves, with but little effort, as I outlined in the last paragraphs of this post.
A spokeswoman for the Research Defence Society, which represents users of animals in experiments, said: “A lot of animals are bred within the UK and quite often within the facilities where they are used. Certain animals, such as specialist transgenic strains of mice, have to be imported. Certain species of primate cannot be bred in the UK because conditions are not right.”
She added that 85% of the animals used in 2.8m experiments each year are mice and rats.
A spokesman for the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, a police body that monitors the animal rights movement, said the Gateway to Hell campaign was closely connected to Shac. “It is linked to Shac by people who run the website,” he said.
The Gateway to Hell website is registered in Thailand in the name of a group based at the same address as Shac in Evesham, Worcestershire. Shac last week denied any knowledge of the connection.
Linked to SHAC! Whoever would imagine?
Keith Mann, a spokesman for Gatewaytohell.net, said: “Once we have stopped the airports, which we will do before too long, it is going to be difficult for them to find other ways of bringing animals in.”
Mann, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 1994 for criminal damage and attempted arson, said the protest campaign was intending to expand to take on ports such as Dover.
Asked whether or not he condoned the attacks, Mann said: “It is an obvious extension to the campaign. The more the authorities clamp down on legitimate protest, as is happening through injunctions, it seems logical that people are going to resort to other kinds of tactics. They are effective, the proof is there.”
It is, of course, of surpassing interest to note both the arrogance and irony of Mr. Mann, himself a convicted felon, holding court and pontificating on what does and does not constitute legitimate forms of protest.
I suspect that for Mr. Mann, "legitimate protest" is defined according to how his own conscience feels, rather than what my conscience might suggest, your conscience might dictate, or the law might require.
Were Mr. Mann and his ilk in charge of things, one can well imagine the fate of people who, acting out of conscience, used intimidation, coercion and raw terror so that they could use animals in ways he disapproved of.
And I suspect, were Mr. Mann in charge, he would hold those lawbreakers — for that's what they'd be — accountable for not subordinating the dictates of their conscience to the requirements of the legal system he would impose. And he might even be less generous in his punishment of them than the present system has been in its punishment of him.
In effect, Mr. Mann is telling us that his conscience is infallible. Logically, then, my conscience and yours would be wrong if they were to disagree with his, and laws based on his conscience would be far preferable to any based on yours or mine.
Of course, Mr. Mann has every right to believe that his conscience is infallible.
But forgive me if I remain just a tad skeptical, at least until he produces good solid evidence that some supernatural entity has selected him to be a prophet and is guiding his conscience to infallibility.