Animal Liberation Front

Introduction

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a far-left extremist group focused on animal rights.* The group originated in the United Kingdom but has a presence in 40 countries around the world. In the United States, ALF has claimed responsibility for arson and vandalism against animal research facilities, farms, restaurants, and other businesses the group considers harmful to animals.

ALF’s core ideology is built on four basic tenets: free animals from abuse; damage those profiting from the suffering and exploitation of animals; expose hidden cruelties against animals through non-violent actions and freeing of animals; and take all necessary precautions to prevent hard to animals or humans.* Despite this commitment to avoiding harm, ALF’s actions have included bombings, arson, and other attacks that have resulted in injuries. In the 1980s and 1990s, several letter bombs and car bombs were attributed to ALF. ALF distanced itself from those attacks and they were later claimed by ALF breakaway groups called the Justice Department and Animal Rights Militia. Both groups allegedly broke from ALF because they sought more direct action, but some researchers believe the three groups maintain close ties and ALF uses the other two to maintain plausible deniability of violent activities.*

The FBI closely associates ALF with the tactic of arson and accuses ALF of setting fire to several animal research facilities, fur companies, mink farms, and restaurants resulting in losses of more than $45 million during the 1990s.* ALF has also released animals from farms and other facilities, such as in August 2003 when ALF claimed responsibility for releasing more than 10,000 mink from a farm in Washington state.* ALF allegedly believes it must break “the unjust laws” that allow the exploitation of animals.* Further, ALF justifies violent acts such as arson because they financially hurt those ALF classifies as animal abusers.* Between 1995 and 2010, ALF was responsible for 45 percent of 239 arson and bombing attacks recorded by the Department of Homeland security and attributed to environmental terrorists.* After the 9/11 terror attacks, the FBI focused its efforts on domestic terrorist threats, while corporate lobbying pushed the government to take decisive action against ecoterrorists specifically. The FBI labeled ALF a domestic terrorist organization and the Justice Department began a campaign pursuing ecoterrorists as the nation’s top domestic terrorist threat.*Alleen Brown, “The Green Scare,” Intercept, March 23, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/23/ecoterrorism-fbi-animal-rights/; Juliet Eilperin, “As eco-terrorism wanes, governments still target activist groups seen as threat,” Washington Post, March 10, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/as-eco-terrorism-wanes-governments-still-target-activist-groups-seen-as-threat/2012/02/28/gIQAA4Ay3R_story.html; Testimony of Dale L. Watson, Executive Assistant Director, Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence Division Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, DC, FBI, February 6, 2002, https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/the-terrorist-threat-confronting-the-united-states.x In 2009, an ALF spokesman said some members had turned to violence following the failure of years of peaceful campaigning.* ALF members continue to vandalize and attack farms, restaurants, research facilities, and other targets they believe perpetuate the suffering of animals.*

Following the 9/11 attacks, the FBI ramped up its surveillance and other activities against ALF and ELF. In December 2001, domestic terrorism section chief of the FBI, James Jarboe, called ALF and ELF “the No. 1 priority in the domestic terrorism program.”*Alleen Brown, “The Green Scare,” Intercept, March 23, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/23/ecoterrorism-fbi-animal-rights/; Juliet Eilperin, “As eco-terrorism wanes, governments still target activist groups seen as threat,” Washington Post, March 10, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/as-eco-terrorism-wanes-governments-still-target-activist-groups-seen-as-threat/2012/02/28/gIQAA4Ay3R_story.html; Testimony of Dale L. Watson, Executive Assistant Director, Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence Division Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, DC, FBI, February 6, 2002, https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/the-terrorist-threat-confronting-the-united-states.x In congressional testimony in 2004, John Lewis, deputy assistant director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, called the investigation of animal rights extremists and ecoterrorism matters the FBI’s highest domestic terrorism investigative priority.*

Leadership

ALF is a leaderless organization.

Base of Operations

International.

Website

Not determined.

Membership Size and Relevance

ALF has no formal membership. It is comprised of anonymous, autonomous cells bound by a central ideology to halt animal testing and promote animal rights.* ALF organizes into these cells to prevent infiltration by law enforcement and accused animal abusers. ALF is present in at least 40 countries around the world.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

A website called the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (NAALPO) relays information from ALF. The website’s operators claim they are unaffiliated with ALF and do not know the people in charge of ALF, as it is an anonymous organization. Nonetheless, the NAALPO outlines ALF’s agenda and how to get involved. The website also publishes ALF claims of responsibility and defends the group against accusations of terrorism.*

According to the NAALPO, those who wish to join ALF should join with other like- minded individuals and start taking direct action. The NAALPO provides links to information on how to take direct action in line with ALF’s ideology.*

Violent Activities

  • January 8, 2012: ALF activists set fire to a truck storage area at Harris Farms in Fresno County, California. The NAALPO issued ALF’s claim of responsibility.
  • March 7, 2009: Unknown individuals firebomb the car of University of California, Los Angeles professor David Jentsch outside his home because of his animal research. There were no casualties. ALF claimed responsibility. *
  • March 11, 1997: Douglas Joshua Ellerman set fire to the Fur Breeders Agricultural co-op in Sandy, Utah. He later turned himself in and was sentenced to seven years in prison and restitution of approximately $750,000. ALF did not officially claim the incident but Ellerman admits that he belongs to the group. *
  • June 1991: ALF claimed responsibility for arson attacks on an Oregon State University mink research farm near Corvallis, Oregon, and the Northwest Farm Food Cooperative in Edmonds, Washington, which produces feed for mink farms. *
  • February 28, 1992: Rodney Coronado broke into the Michigan State University (MSU) office of researcher Richard Aulerich in East Lansing, Michigan, and set off a pre-dawn firebomb. Coronado reportedly believed Aulerich’s research was funded by the commercial fur industry. The bomb destroyed Aulerich’s office and damaged three others. The attack led to the loss of more than 30 years of research for Aulerich and caused more than $1 million in damage. The morning of the attack, Coronado also vandalized an MSU-run mink farm near campus. ALF claimed responsibility in a press release, which Coronado admitted to writing. Coronado pleaded guilty in 1995 but claimed he was not the one who set off the bomb. He was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution to MSU and other universities and farms he had targeted. In 2017, he admitted to acting alone on behalf of ALF. *
  • 1987: An arson attack destroyed an animal diagnostics laboratory under construction at the University of California, Davis. It is the first arson attack claimed by ALF. *Alleen Brown, “The Green Scare,” Intercept, March 23, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/23/ecoterrorism-fbi-animal-rights/x

Rhetoric

  • “For ‘World Vegan Day’, Ben & Jerry’s decided to advertise free plant based ice cream for a day. So we decided to show them that this advertising attracts actual vegans as well.

    “The paint on the side of their building ensures that anyone who walks by will know what they are walking by; a company whose massive profits come from the sexual violation of millions of persons, all while pretending to ‘resist’ and be ‘woke’ in their online presence.

    “We do not want your vegan capitalism. We don’t want vegan options. We want animal liberation. Take your cash grab and shove it.

    “Until all your exploitative business fronts and factories are rubble.”*“ALF Targets Ice Cream Store in Denver (USA),” North American Animal Liberation Press Office, November 2, 2019, https://animalliberationpressoffice.org/NAALPO/2019/11/02/alf-targets-ice-cream- store-in-denver-usa/.x

  • ALF statement, October 12, 2019: “Anti speciesist action was taken against a McDonalds in ‘America’s Dairyland’.

    “The locals are some of the most grim, unfeeling, and uncaring speciesists in the states. We are doing what little we can to throw a wrench in their gears.

    “Multiple messages were painted on the sides of this location, and we planned on destroying some windows hadn’t there been a sudden police presence nearby.

    “In solidarity with those caught in the ‘terrorist’ spotlight and spending decades of their life behind bars for victimless ‘crimes’.

    “None of us are free until we are all free.”*

  • ALF statement, July 23, 2019: “Solidarity with our comrades facing trial.

    “Some activist showed up late in the week of solidarity action to redecorate and give a friendly knock to a local McDonalds. The bright red painted messages of peace were washed away quickly, but that window will take a few days to replace.

    “We must use our privilege as humans to fight back against the system that keeps animals oppressed.

    “Calling out everyone who talks the animal liberation talk but does not take action. You have temporary freedom to lose, the animals lose their entire lives. You feel nervous about getting caught, they feel nervous on their way to see their friends murdered in front of them.

    “They can’t wait. The earth can’t wait. Get off your ass and FIGHT.”*

  • Rodney Coronado, newspaper interview, 2017: “I won’t sugar coat it; we were about psychological warfare. We wanted researchers like Aulerich never to know when they came to work and opened their office door whether there had been an attack. We wanted them to live in fear.”*
  • Craig Rosebraugh, ALF spokesman, October 2001: “If the U.S. government is truly concerned with eradicating terrorism in the world, then that effort must begin with abolishing U.S. imperialism. Members of this governing body, both in the House and Senate as well as those who hold positions in the executive branch, constitute the largest group of terrorists and terrorist representatives currently threatening life on this planet.”*Alleen Brown, “The Green Scare,” Intercept, March 23, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/23/ecoterrorism-fbi-animal-rights/x

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

The Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide… [terrorist attacks will] remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc.

Patrick Crusius, El Paso Shooter Aug. 2019
View Archive

CEP on Twitter