According to STRATFOR, an open source intelligence firm, on July 22 special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI arrested Walter Bond in Denver. He was charged with setting an April 30 fire which destroyed the Sheepskin Factory, a Glendale, Colorado, business.
According to STRATFOR, Bond goes by the alias ALF Lone Wolf, and he apparently bragged to a confidential informant that he was also responsible for a June 5 fire at a leather factory in Salt Lake City and a July 3 fire at a restaurant in Sandy, Utah.
Bond is a member of an extremist group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). They are allied with a similar organization called the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
These groups were somewhat in the news a few years ago, but faded off the radar when it became apparent that public sympathies were rather with the business owners whose livelihoods were destroyed and workers who were injured — not the radicals who saw no moral dilemma in spiking trees or torching housing developments.
So far, law enforcement has not focused heavily on organizations like the ALF or the ELF for a couple of reasons. First, because they’re hard to catch. They use an operational model called “leaderless resistance” in which small cells or individual operatives function underground without a command structure. They are in turn given some cover guidance by above-ground political organizations which are very careful not to do anything illegal. They also tend to get cover from a sympathetic media which, when they do report on it, will tend to decry the action and then proceed to talk about the horrors of animal testing.
The other reason these cases don’t get a lot of attention is that to date the terrorists have been very careful not to target people deliberately.
There are some indications this may be changing.
As STRATFOR reports:
According to the ATF affidavit, a search of Bond’s backpack after his arrest revealed that he had a copy of an ALF publication titled “The Declaration of War: Killing People to Save the Animals and the Environment.” The book, which was first published by the ALF in 1991, contends that nonviolent methods such as those laid out by Gandhi and Jesus are not productive (especially when applied to animals) and explains that violence is justified to protect animals, who cannot protect themselves. The book’s author contends that people who seek to liberate animals (which the author refers to as “brothers” and “sisters”) from human oppression and abuse will “use any and every tactic necessary to win the freedom of our brothers and sisters. This means they cheat, steal, lie, plunder, disable, threaten, and physically harm others to achieve their objective.”
In other words, they figure it’s OK to kill people if it will save an animal.
There has been little coverage of this case save for local media. Compare this with the wall-to-wall coverage of the Ohio militia group calling itself the “Hutaree,” arrested in March.
The problem with this case is, of course, that it does not fit the media — and by extension the administration’s — narrative. Witness the Department of Homeland Security document “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” which was released shortly after the current administration took power. That document seriously suggested anti-abortion activists and libertarians were as much of a threat to the nation as al-Qaeda. As a Fox News report back in March of 2009 pointed out, the document went so far as to name former presidential candidates Ron Paul and Bob Barr by name.
In fairness, there is a similar document by the DHS which mentions the ALF specifically. As Greg Sargent on the left-wing blog The Plum Line points out:
While this new memo was mentioned tangentially by the Washington Times, reading the whole memo in full shows clearly that a similar approach was employed towards the left and deflates any claims of DHS “bias.”
The bias, however, need not be on the part of the DHS specifially. Note the legacy media mentioned the left-wing memo only in passing, while devoting large amounts of time and many column inches to the right-wing memo, associated with stories on the rise of the militia movement. I do believe, but cannot prove, that in a coldly calculated political ploy the administration made sure the right-wing memo got plenty of play.
And that of course, is the point — the narrative the administration wants people to believe:
Evil nasty inbred white rightwingers, bad. Courageous young white socialist lefties who are saving cute and fuzzy bunnies by firebombing researchers’ homes, good.
Oh, the response by animal rights activists to that attack?
Jerry Vlasak, a Los Angeles spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said:
It’s regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments.