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Ecoterror resurfaces with Seattle arsons

The destruction of four luxury homes Monday suggest the involvement of the extremist Earth Liberation Front.

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Over following months, the suspects (five women and six men) began cooperating with prosecutors, in some cases providing information on fellow suspects in return for reduced sentences.

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But threats and attacks continue. In Santa Cruz, Calif., recently, the husband of a University of California researcher whose biomedical research includes the use of lab animals was attacked in his home by masked assailants. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, but university officials suspect animal rights activists. Other staff and students have been targeted by animal rights activists in recent weeks, according to university officials.

"The incidents include harassing phone calls and graffiti vandalism at the victims' homes," university Chancellor George Blumenthal said in a statement. "No claims of responsibility have been made, and police are investigating. These actions come in the wake of dangerous incidents involving researchers at other campuses, including UCLA."

The University of California at Los Angeles recently obtained a temporary restraining order against animal rights groups and activists accused of harassing university researchers. In one recent incident, an incendiary device was placed on the porch of a UCLA researcher who uses monkeys in her research on nicotine addiction.

Groups named in the restraining order are UCLA Primate Freedom, the Animal Liberation Brigade, and the Animal Liberation Front.

While attackers remain anonymous, their works are chronicled and promoted by the "North American Animal Liberation Press Office," in Woodland Hills, Calif.

The press office claimed in a recent posting to its website, "There were at least 53 claimed actions by the animal liberation underground in North America in 2007, almost twice the number from the year before – and there are undoubtedly many more actions that went unclaimed."

The temporary restraining order will make little difference in its activities, an ALF spokesman says.
“UCLA accomplished absolutely nothing,” says Jerry Vlasak, a medical doctor who opposes animal testing and acts as a press officer for ALF. “Underground activists will probably never even know the restraining order exists, and all but five picketers can continue their protests against the atrocities being committed by primate vivisectors on the UCLA campus.”

For their part, researchers conducting animal testing take a very different view of such threats.
“There is an ominous upward spiral of violence against researchers,” says Jacquie Calnan, president of Americans for Medical Progress in Alexandria, Va., which represents universities, private research facilities, and research-related businesses.

“Threats and crimes by animal rights militants have been horrific realities for two generations of scientists, from the earliest of laboratory break-ins and animal thefts in the 1980s, to booby-trapped letters in the 1990s, to recent firebombings and nighttime protests at scientists’ homes,” says Ms. Calnan.

“With the attacks increasing in intensity, it may be only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.”

Material from the Associated Press was used.