Here's a chilling story about Animal Rights terrorism from the Guardian, with my comments.
Animal rights activists have unleashed a new arson campaign in the run-up to the introduction of a law next month which could see them jailed for five years for economic sabotage.
Extremists are returning to the tactics of several years ago, using firebombs to attack anyone they perceive as having links to Huntingdon Life Sciences, the Cambridgeshire-based research laboratory.
A senior figure within the Animal Liberation Front told the Guardian that activists would not rest until they had shut down HLS. Speaking from prison, Keith Mann, who promotes arson as the best form of attack, said the government's clampdown on protesters meant "all that is left to them is extremism".
Readers of AC will remember Mr. Mann from my post here, an incident that can only be described as "other worldly." He has quite a history, and the Brits have quite a history of tolerating him and his shenanigans.
In a telephone call from Winchester prison, where he is serving six months for contempt of court, Mann said the campaign against HLS was number one for activists.
"We believe when Huntingdon goes the industry will start to crumble."
But an increasingly indiscriminate campaign has recently hit those who have no links to HLS or animal testing. An incendiary device was placed under a car belonging to a truck driver and his wife in Leicestershire last week. The firebomb, which did not go off, was intended to target a solicitor who worked for the pharmaceutical giant Fisons. The lawyer had moved from the property 18 months earlier.
In another case, the finance director of a small brokers firm, Canaccord Capital, was in hiding yesterday after being firebombed by the ALF at his home in Bracknell, Berkshire.
Michael Kendall, his wife and two young daughters were asleep when the incendiary device exploded under his car, which was in the garage.
A neighbour said: "It was incredible. It was about 11.30 at night and suddenly there were flames coming out of the car. We heard the alarm go off and ran out to see what was going on. We saw Mr Kendall there, trying to put out the flames.
"Then a tyre exploded, making a huge banging noise. You could feel the heat coming off the fire and by then a small crowd of us watched."
The attack on May 26 was claimed by the ALF two days ago on a website posting which read: "A new era has dawned for those who fund the abusers and raise funds for them to murder animals with. You too are on the hit list: you have been warned. If you support or raise funds for any company connected with Huntingdon Life Sciences we will track you down, come for you and destroy your property with fire."
Members of Shac, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, defended the action yesterday, saying the brokers had raised £10m for Phytopharm, which was a customer of HLS.
I would note in passing a recent OpEd that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer written by Animal Rights activist Nick Cooney. Mr. Cooney tried to sell SHAC as a bunch of people merely interested in exercising their freedom of expression. It would be good to hear Mr. Cooney's thoughts on this — would he defend such arsonist actions, or not?
But directors at Canaccord were stunned by the attack on a family man who has no links to animal testing. They swiftly announced they would cut ties with Phytopharm.
A source in the firm said Mr Kendall was shocked to discover he was a target of extremists and was keeping a low profile.
Dr Richard Dixey, director of Phytopharm, which researches drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, told the Guardian the drugs company no longer had any connections with HLS.
"They say we are a major client at Huntingdon, but we have no studies at Huntingdon whatsoever any more," he said.
"I have never met Mr Kendall. He is a family man, with young kids. The whole thing is outrageous.
"This is like dealing with the mafia. What are these people trying to achieve? What is the point of doing this? They have gone too far and they are morally bankrupt. The idea that you should stop medical research because of the objections of a small group of ill informed people is outrageous."
The questions — "What are they trying to achieve? What is the point?" — always seem to enter the equation, don't they?
What "they" are trying to achieve, what "their" point is, is simple: they're trying to seize power through terror.
And ALF, SHAC and their fellow travelers aren't interested in terrorizing only those who are the actual targets, but anybody who might have the effrontery to consider crossing them in the future.
Or, for that matter, even associating with one of their targets, present or future.
Consider: if you were agnostic about Animal Rights, and you had an opportunity to deal with someone targeted by "them" for real or imagined animal abuse, how ready would you be to do so, knowing that you or your family could well become a target of a fire-bomb?
If you back out of the deal out of fear for yourself and your family, you've been coerced. If you go through with the deal, you have to live in fear of what can happen to you and your family.
"Their" point is very clear: don't even think about crossing us; don't have anything — and we mean anything — to do with one of our targets.
This is the tyrant's road to power — and it works, the most recent win being a 2-fer: first, ALF forced Canaccord Capital to sever it's relationship with Phytopharm over a non-existent association of the latter with Huntingdon Life Sciences. That demonstrates ALF's raw power.
Second, the use of a fire bomb, set to explode at an occupied home in the middle of the night, is a clear message — if suchlike is necessary — that there is no end to how ruthless AR extremists will be. It is pure dumb luck that nobody has yet been killed. But it's just a matter of time until somebody is.
Police are hoping that a new law against economic sabotage to be introduced next month as part of the Serious Organised Crime and Disorder Act, will help them crack down on the campaign of firebombing. Extremists can be jailed for up to five years for inflicting economic damage on medical research companies.
"These are extremely serious crimes and are being investigated," said Superintendent Steve Pearl, head of the national extremism tactical coordination unit (Nectu).
Laws and investigations are all well and good. But, as I've argued before, when you catch a chronic offender, you can't hope to appease him or appeal to his better instincts by imposing a minimal sentence on him. How do you appease someone who's doing god's work, and sees it as his holy mission to force his opponents into compliance? Animal Rights fanatics are no less fanatical, no less sure of their faith-based belief (that animals have intrinsic rights, and that an animal life and a human life are equally valuable), then any religious fanatic you'd care to name.
In Newtown Linford, Leicestershire, Andy Johnson and his wife Carmel, who were targeted with a firebomb which failed to go off last week, appealed for the extremists to leave them alone. Mr Johnson, who returned home to find a home-made bomb in his car port, said he had also had car tyres slashed and ALF graffiti daubed over their garage. His "crime" was that he had bought his cottage 18 months ago from a lawyer who works for Fisons.
"It's nothing to do with us," he said. "We have no links with Fisons. The ALF has just seen the previous owner's name connected to our address.
"We want them to know we have nothing to do with animal testing and aren't the people they want."
Perhaps true, Mr. Johnson, but so what? What happened to you is a good example to others of what they could face if they get too close to one of ALF's targets.
The middle is being moved within the AR community as well as between the AR and Animal Welfare communities.
Personally, I think these ALF/SHAC people are developing a real taste for terrorism . . . an appetite that will only grow with time.
Thanks to David S. for the heads up.