Animal Liberation Front

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Dogs "rescued" by ALF members.
The ALF that people actually like. He's ugly, and he eats cats,[1] but doesn't feel the need to wear a ski mask.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is an extremist international animal rights activist group. It is a decentralized, leaderless, militant "resistance" movement, with the goal of stopping what they have decided are crimes against animals. Technically, Animal Liberation Front is not an organization. Those involved with Animal Liberation Front are called volunteers instead of members. Anyone who adheres to ALF's principles (that is, "liberating" animals without bodily harm to any living thing) can be considered one.

ALF is active in thirty eight countries. Due to its participation in illegal activities and because of monitoring by government agencies, ALF operates covertly, though it has overt supporters. ALF advocates take "direct action" against individuals, businesses, and even the family and friends of people who are involved in a wide range of industries that rely on animal husbandry and testing. Tactics employed by ALF include sabotage of animal research facilities, through vandalism, arson, threatening people involved with this (or family members of theirs), and removal of test animals from laboratories. ALF has argued that if the Nazi concentration camps can be destroyed to save lives, animal research laboratories can also be destroyed to save lives. This argument has the strange property of, on the one hand, equating the loss of human life to animal life, and on the other, ignoring the millions of lives (both animal and human) saved due to animal research programs.

Government involvement[edit]

From its very beginning, ALF faced government monitoring. The UK and US governments labeled the group a terrorist organization.[2] Operation Backfire by the FBI did extreme harm to the ALF by "appl[ying] investigative techniques commensurate to the threat of Al Qaeda sleeper cells to disrupt their networks, including surveillance, infiltration, raids on homes and offices, and the use of grand juries to force innocent people to inform on their friends and colleagues."[3].

Animal rights activists are now usually prosecuted under the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a federal statute accused by supporters to be both draconian in nature and heavily lobbied for by the agriculture, pharmaceutical and farming industries.[4] Per this law, terrorism now includes damaging personal or real property without harming a single human being.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did not oppose the bill, but expressed concerns that "minor changes [were] necessary to make the bill less likely to chill or threaten freedom of speech."[5] The ACLU requested that the bill be amended to define what was meant by "real or personal property," to narrow the definition of "animal enterprise," and to substantially reduce penalties for conspiracy convictions under the statute. The particular changes proposed by the ACLU are not present in the final version of the AETA.

Moreover, the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU declares:

On Thanksgiving Sunday 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a breathtaking statute designed to make illegal the exercise of free speech against animal torture, and to brand animal activists as terrorists.
—ACLU Massachusetts, [6]

And civil liberties journalist Glenn Greenwald writes:

[ALF volunteer] Lauren Gazolla, who was imprisoned for 40 months in 2004 for her nonviolent animal rights activism and now works at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that this movement “strikes at something fundamental. It challenges a way of life: So much of how much we live our lives is based on massive violence against animals, and the more brutal these industries are, the more profit they make.”
Glenn Greenwald, [7]

Criticism[edit]

The Animal Liberation Front is criticized by many individuals and organizations. Some of these organizations participating in or advocate animal testing, while others may agree with ALF's objectives but see their extreme activities as counter-productive. Of course, since the families of those who work for cosmetic companies are targets of violence[8] (due to their involvement in animal "torture"), it kind of makes sense that they would be the ones to "slander" ALF (a movement which advocates abolition of animal "torture" through this human "torture"). Most rational humans feel that involving the families of people the ALF oppose is totally inappropriate.

ALF has released mink into the British countryside to the detriment of the surrounding envrioment.[9] Most of the captive-bred mink probably died before learning how to live in the wild, while those that survived damaged native wildlife. As mink are very efficient carnivores they both out-compete native carnivores and damage native prey populations. It then becomes the job of people who are actually concerned about the environment to track and kill the escaped animals.

See also[edit]

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