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Animal Planet

Animal-rights terrorism is on the increase and animal-rights activists aren't doing enough to stop it.

12:00 AM, May 26, 2006 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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TERRORISM TAKES MANY FORMS. Recently, animal-rights terrorists have unleashed an organized campaign of violence and intimidation against animal industries and their service companies--such as banks, auditing companies, and insurance brokers.

A pattern has developed: Websites identify people to be terrorized because of their involvement with animal-using industries; these sites list their personal information, including home addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, even the names, ages, and schools of their children. Militants use this information to send anonymous death threats to the children of targets, backed by mailed video tapes of their family members. They steal mail, shatter windows while the family is home, burn cars, make false bomb threats, cover homes with graffiti, take out subscriptions to pornographic magazines in the name of the target, steal identities, and otherwise ruin their victims' lives.

One of the most active of these groups is Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), which is dedicated to driving Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) out of business because it tests drugs on animals. As William Trundley, the vice president for Corporate Security & Investigations at GlaxoSmithKline, recently testified, SHAC members distribute a "SHAC Terror Card" to potential victims, which reads:

Do you do business with Huntingdon Life Sciences? . . . If you do, there's something you should know . . . Radical animal rights activists have been targeting executives and employees of companies that work with HLS, with criminal activity including: smashed windows; spray painted houses; glued locks; vandalized cars; stolen credit card numbers; ID theft; fraud; and continuous acts of harassment and intimidation against employees, their children and spouses.

The card states that "the only way to end or prevent such attacks . . . is to stop doing business with Huntingdon."

SHAC has grown so brazen that it demands that when targeted companies capitulate to its demands, they do so publicly. The SHAC website instructs:

TO ALL SUPPLIERS: If you have severed your links with Huntingdon Life Sciences, please let the campaign know. You can send a simple email to info@shac.net stating the following: " . . . . . . (name of your company) have severed their links with HLS and terminated their contract, and will not be dealing with them now or in the future, directly or indirectly." This will enable supporters to be kept up to date with which companies are still involved with Huntingdon Life Sciences.

This is terrorism, pure and simple--and unfortunately, it's working. SHAC and its allies, such as the Animal Liberation Front, have scared a number of businesses into cutting ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences, including the huge auditing firm of Deloitte & Touche. At present, SHAC's website lists 113 companies that have complied with its demands, including Johnson & Johnson, Washington Mutual, UBS Global Capital, Nucryst Pharmaceutical, and Chubb.

The site also crows about its most recent triumph: the submission of the New York Stock Exchange to animal liberationist demands. In 2005, the NYSE unexpectedly reversed a decision to list Huntingdon Life Sciences, on the morning the listing was to commence. Big Board executives refused to either explain or justify their decision--even to a United States Senate committee. The rescission came immediately after liberationists vandalized an executive's yacht club and threatened to target Exchange employees.

NOW THE TELEGRAPH reports that U.K. animal liberationists plan to hold a "training camp" to "export terror" throughout Europe this June. "The AR 2006 camp," will "feature classes in potentially lethal physical techniques . . . that could be used against security guards at pharmaceutical companies and huntsmen."

Law enforcement is on heightened alert to protect against animal-rights terrorism, and legislation (H.R. 4239) is wending its way through the House of Representatives to make such lawlessness more easily prosecuted. These are necessary steps. But given the ideological zealotry of these extremists, the best chance we have of stopping the violence is for fellow believers to convince the terrorists among them to stay within the law.