Animal Activists Get More Militant

The Commack, N.Y., branch of Forest Laboratories, a Manhattan-based pharmaceutical company, is seen Aug. 4, 2004. The Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal rights group, claims its members have committed numerous acts of vandalism against Forest and its executives over the past year. ALF wants Forest to end ties with the British firm Huntingdon Life Sciences, which it says kills animals in testing.
Last month, animal rights extremists followed the wife of a pharmaceutical company executive to her job, rifled through her car and stole a credit card. They used it buy $20,000 in traveler's checks, which they then donated to four charities.

A Web site announcement boasting of the act included a more sinister threat:

"If we find out a dime of that money granted to those charities was taken back we will strip you bear (sic) and burn your (expletive). This is OUR insurance policy."

The actions by the radical Animal Liberation Front appear to be the latest salvo in an ongoing battle pitting scientists, businesses and labs involved in animal research against those intent on stopping them — at almost any cost.

The president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a group backed by institutions that rely on animal research, said ALF members operate like terrorists.

"These are unbelievably mean-spirited people who operate under this delusion that they are on a higher moral ground than the rest of us," president Frankie Trull said. "They operate in a classic terrorist organization mode. There are individual cells, and, as we understand it, one doesn't know what another is doing. Regrettably, I think this is actually a growing industry."

ALF's credo on its Web site claims the group "carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property."

The FBI is investigating a number of incidents over the past year that ALF claims its members committed against Manhattan-based Forest Laboratories and its executives. Forest, which employs 3,000 people in several Long Island communities, specializes in medicines for depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's disease and hypertension.