Domestic Terrorism: The Animal Liberation Front

Essay by chris-t2 June 2004

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The FBI has divided the terrorist threat facing the United States into two broad categories, international and domestic. Domestic terrorism has been defined as the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction, committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. Within the past several years, special interest extremism, such as that which is typical of the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, has emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups most often engage in lawful types of activity. Law enforcement becomes involved when the explosive talk of these groups crosses the boundary into unlawful action. The Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates that through the combined efforts of the Animal Liberation Front and the Environmental Liberation Front they have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.

Special interest terrorism groups seek to resolve specific issues, rather than effect widespread political change. Special interest extremists continue to conduct acts of politically motivated violence to force segments of society, including the general public, to change attitudes about issues considered important to their causes. These groups occupy the extreme fringes of animal rights, pro-life, environmental, anti-nuclear, and other movements. Some special interest extremists, most notably within the animal rights and environmental movements have turned increasingly toward vandalism and terrorist activity in attempts to further their causes.

The Animal Liberation Front, also known as ALF, has become one of the most active extremist terrorist groups in the United States. The Animal Liberation Front was established...