Robin Webb on Animal Rights Terrorism

No Compromise recently ran a telling interview with Animal Liberation Front press officer Robin web about the roll of terrorism in the animal rights movement. Webb told the magazine (emphasis added),

The Animal Liberation Front, together with more radical groups such as the Animal Rights Militia and Justice Department, is the hard cutting edge of the war against abuse and exploitation of the weak and innocent, irrespective of gender, race or species.

. . .

The third policy is to take every reasonable precaution not to harm or endanger life, either human or non-human.

Anyone, so long as they follow at least a vegetarian—but preferably vegan—lifestyle, can go out and undertake an action that falls within those policies and claim it as the Animal Liberation Front. There is no hierarchy; there are no leaders. There is just a compulsion to follow your heart in pursuit of justice. That is why the A.L.F. cannot be smashed, it cannot be effectively infiltrated, it cannot be stopped. You, each and every one of you: you are the A.L.F.

And if someone wishes to act as the Animal Rights Militia or the Justice Department? Simply put, the third policy of the A.L.F. no longer applies.

As this web site has repeatedly said, it is incorrect to think of the ALF, ARM and Justice Department as groups. Instead they are little more than brand names for specific actions that are likely taken by overlapping group of activists.

Burn down a laboratory and nobody is injured? Claim it in the name of the ALF. Want to send razor blades to the homes of medical researchers? Fine, just make sure you label it as a Justice Department action.

Instead of thinking of these groups out there organizing to carry out activities, animal rights terrorism and extremism is better conceived as, in general, small groups of extremists who pick and choose a la carte from these brands depending on the outcome of their activities. There is no ALF dedicated to not harming people as opposed to an ARM that has no problem composing assassination lists. Instead there is simply a hardcore of animal rights extremism that picks and chooses these names for their own purposes.

In fact Webb and activist David Hammond were arrested in 1994 and charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Later Hammond and Webb had a falling out, and The Observer reported in 1998 that,

Earlier, ALF defector David Hammond claimed Webb was the secret force behind the pro-killing group, the Justice Department. He said the outwardly respectable ALF spokesman had even offered him a sawn-off shotgun in a Sussex lay-by and asked if he knew Colin Blakemore – an Oxford professor who is at the top of the Justice Department’s hit-list.


Staying on target and going the distance: an interview with UK ALF Press Officer Robin Webb. No Compromise, Issue 22, Fall 2003.

Hunt Ban Opponents Targeted for Violence

Two opponents of the ban on fox Hunting in the United Kingdom were warned by police that their names appeared on a hit list prepared by extremist animal rights groups. Labour Member of Parliament Llin Golding and Sports Minister Kate Hoey were advised by police to take extra security precautions after the list came to light. Given recent animal rights violence, including an assault on an animal lab manager and a wave of letter bombs, police are taking the threat very seriously.

Hoey is an outspoken defender of fox hunting, while Golding supported a compromise proposal that would have heavily regulated fox hunting rather than banning it outright. They were the only Labour Members of Parliament to vote against the bill banning fox hunting.

Golding lashed out at extremists in the animal rights movement saying,

These people do not frighten me, they just make me sick and nothing they do will stop me from speaking up for what I think is wright. They have already sent me a coffin containing a huntsman, and tombstone. They are bullies and they are evil. It is important that people do not give in to them.

Robin Webb, spokesman for the UK Animal Liberation Front, was relatively candid in an interview with the Daily Telegraph about his group’s indifference to human life and the ALF’s connection to violent attacks in the UK.

Asked whether or not the ALF condemned the threats, Webb said,

This is something the ALF will neither condone or condemn. We fully understand the anger and frustration which leads people to take this type of action. The Labour Party has failed to keep all those pledges it made to animal rights campaigners in the run-up to the last election.

Many people feel they have been conned and let down by New Labour. The whole movement has taken a step towards radicalism. The argument has been used, quite justifiably in my opinion, that if the animals could fight for themselves there would be a lot of dead animal abusers.

Webb said that the hit list was probably put together by members of the Animal Rights Militia and the Justice Department, both of which have been responsible for numerous acts of violence, including letter bomb attacks, in the UK and other countries. Webb also confirmed what anyone who has followed the ALF for very long could also deduce — ALF members are behind the Animal Rights Militia and Justice Department. Webb said,

People who are ALF members do work for other organistions. The ALF cannot be held responsible for actions they carry out as [a] result of membership of another organisation.

In other words, the ALF is just a label. If nobody gets hurt in an action, the activists say it was done in the name of the ALF. If it involves potentially maiming or killing someone, they simply pick another name out of the hat such as the Animal Rights Militia, but the same core group of activists is likely behind both types of actions.


Animal rights activists target MPs. The BBC, March 10, 2001.

Bomb threat to pro-hunt women MPs. Joe Murphy and Chris Hastings, The Daily Telegraph (London) March 11, 2001.

ALF Founder — Victim of Violent Attack Got What He Deserved

Ronnie Lee, who founded the Animal Liberation Front but claims he is no longer associated with the group, this week sang the praises of the unidentified attackers who attacked Huntingdon Life Sciences
managing director Brian Cass with baseball bats last week. The Daily Telegraph reports that Lee had this to say about the violent assault on Cass,

This serves Brian Cass right and is totally justifiable. In fact he has got off lightly. I have no sympathy for him. I do not condemn this act. I condemn what Brian Cass does to animals. In fact, I would say I condone this. What surprises me is that this doesn’t happen more often

Robin Webb, a UK spokesman for the ALF, wouldn’t condone the act but did say he “understood” what motivated those who carried it out,

The Animal Liberation Front has always had a policy of not harming life, but while it would not condone what took place, it understands the anger and frustration that leads people to take this kind of action. Groups like the Animal Rights Militia and the Justice Department have said they are prepared to take this sort of action in the short-term for the long-term gain.

Whereas terrorism through arson and other acts of violence don’t phase Webb one bit.


Victim got what he deserved, says animal group’s founder. Richard Alleyne, The Daily Telegraph (UK), February 24, 2001.

Clinton's Clemency Offer Will Only Encourage Animal Rights Terrorists

When President Clinton offered
clemency to 16 Puerto Rican nationalists who waged a campaign of terror
bombing in the 1970s and 1980s, he dramatically increased the danger posed
to Michigan businesses and researchers by the most organized terrorist
groups in the United States today – animal rights terrorists.

Over the last two decades, animal
rights groups calling themselves the Animal Liberation Front and the Justice Department have waged a campaign of terror that includes hundreds of break-ins
and bombings. Michigan businesses and research facilities have often been
frequent targets of such criminals. In August, several Michigan businesses
involved in the fur trade received packages in the mail containing razor
blades and death threats sent by an animal rights organization calling
itself the Justice Department. The threats gave the businesses until the
end of the year to abandon the fur business or face violent reprisals.
The FBI is currently investigating the threats.

Those who firebomb research labs
and destroy meat packing facilities defend their actions by saying they
only target property and never people (although groups like the Justice
Department have no problem hurting people). Like the Puerto Rican nationalists,
they do not even consider their actions violence or terrorism but rather
as acts of liberation.

The Clinton administration and supporters
of clemency for the Puerto Rican nationalists just gave this position
a big boost. Time and again television and newspaper coverage of the controversy
featured people in positions of power and influence arguing it was okay
to free these prisoners because all they did was destroy buildings and
property rather than kill human beings.

These apologists for violence miss
the point; the ultimate goal of terrorism is not to kill but create an
atmosphere of fear. Terrorists kill people only because it is an extremely
effective way to create fear, but such fear can be manufactured just as
easily by destroying property as by outright murder. Racist extremists
often use the threat of arson or other damage to physical property to
intimidate minorities, and some antiabortion extremists have attempted
to use destruction of property at abortion clinics to scare women away
from such facilities. By seeking to create an atmosphere of fear in the
targeted population, such acts of property destruction constitute the
very heart and soul of terrorism.

In defense of the clemency offer,
defenders of the Puerto Rican nationalists claim those convicted have
since renounced violence. Such renunciations are next to worthless as
the case of Rodney Coronado illustrates. Coronado was the first animal
rights activists convicted in federal court for a terrorist bombing. In
1992 Coronado firebombed a research lab at Michigan State University,
causing more than $1 million in damages. Despite a long history of other
violent activities, Coronado received only a 5 year prison sentence.
One of the factors leading to the light sentence was Coronado’s vehement
denunciation of both violence and the animal rights movement at his pre-sentencing
hearing. Once he was sentenced, however, Coronado simply ignored his previous
renunciation of violence and regularly wrote articles from prison justifying
and encouraging acts of destruction against research labs and other facilities.

Renunciation is a poor substitute for incarceration.

Violence from the animal rights
community is likely to increase in the coming years. After some initial
success in gaining public acceptance in the 1980s, the movement experienced
something of a backlash in the 1990s. Today influential members of even
relatively mainstream groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals defend illegal actions as the only way the movement will be
able to change society.

With his clemency offer to convicted
terrorists, the president gave the violent side of the animal rights movement
notice that so long as they cannot be linked to murder their actions will not
be considered “real” terrorism. Michigan businesses and research
facilities may have to pay the price for Clinton’s soft spot for terrorists.

The Barry Horne Fiasco

Animal rights activist and
convicted arsonist Barry Horne recently ended his much-publicized hunger
strike after 68 days. Horne, currently serving an 18-year prison term
in the United Kingdom for a series of arson attacks, began his hunger
strike after Britain’s Labour government failed to deliver on a campaign
pledge to create a special commission to examine animal experimentation.
The prolonged hunger strike, however, raised more questions about Horne
and his supporters than about animal experimentation.

At first, Horne’s
hunger strike seemed to energize at least some parts of the animal rights
community on both sides of the Atlantic. Activists in the United States
and Great Britain staged numerous demonstrations and activities in support
of Horne, and some groups began linking their generic protests against
fur or animal experimentation with Horne’s hunger strike. But in
December the whole affair turned into a public relations disaster as the
animal rights terrorists got involved and Horne and his supporters made
a series of blunders.

Everything started to unravel
thanks to UK Animal Liberation Front spokesman Robin Webb. Webb, who made
numerous television appearances during the hunger strike, gave the media
a list he claimed came from the radical Animal Rights Militia. On the
list were the names of four people the ARM claimed would be assassinated
should Horne die.

The list included Christopher
Brown of Hillgrove Farm, who provides animal uses in medical experiments;
Colin Blakemore of Oxford University; Clive Page of King’s College;
and Mark Matfield of the Research Defence Society. Death threats are no
strangers to Brown and Blakemore who have been targeted by UK activists
in an unrelenting campaign of harassment and terror; Blakemore’s
children once received mail bombs intended for him.

Webb tried to distance himself
from the ARM hit list, saying, “we do not condone this,” but
he couldn’t bring himself to condemn the threat of violence either,
and perhaps for good reason. A British television documentary on animal
rights violence included allegations that Webb actively encouraged such
violence. Former ALF member David Hammond claimed, for example, that Webb
was the main force behind the violent animal rights group, the |Justice
Department|. Hammond also claimed that Webb once offered him a sawed-off
shotgun and asked whether he knew Blakemore. Suddenly, Webb was off consulting
with lawyers rather than distributing hit lists.

And then something really strange
happened – amidst all of the talk over who would be killed if he
should died, Horne ended his hunger strike without obtaining any of the
concessions he demanded. This was odd because only several days before
the British newspaper The Observer ran a story quoting Horne
saying, “I want to die. This is the end. In death you win. …
It is not a question of dying. It’s a question of fighting. If I
die, so be it. We have tried to negotiate with the Government. They have
condemned me to death.”

The same story quoted his next-of-kin,
Alison Lawson, saying “It is only a matter of time now [before Horne

Following publication of that
story, however, Horne and the Animals Betrayed Coalition, which has been
the main animal rights group publicizing Horne’s plight, denounced
The Observer’s story and emphatically said that Horne,
in fact, wanted to live. What was going on here?

According to a story published in The Observer a few days after Horne ended his hunger strike, Horne had
planned a long fast but wanted to end his strike well before death, much
as he had done in two previous hunger strikes. Seeing newspaper stories
with quotes from activists such as Tony Humphries suggesting “he
is a dead man” forced Horne’s hand, The Observer argues, and led him to issue the press release insisting he wanted to
live. Some animal rights activists might have wanted a martyr, but Horne
wasn’t willing to play the part.

Ultimately, Horne ended his
hunger strike not only without getting the concessions from the Labour
government he sought, but if anything his actions delayed the creation
of a committee to look at animal experimentation, since the Labour government
doesn’t want to be seen as giving in to blackmail and threats of
political terrorism. The Animals Betrayed Coalition did try to put a positive
spin on the story by claiming Horne decided to end his hunger strike after
examining papers sent to him by the Labour government, but those were
apparently papers Horne had in his possession for some time and which,
in any case, did not grant the assurances Horne sought.

There are many lessons from
the Horne fiasco, the most obvious of which is the extent to which animal
rights activists of all stripes are willing to support terrorists and
terrorist activities, starting with Horne himself. Although Horne wasn’t
willing to die for the cause, he was willing to endanger the lives of
others during the arson campaign for which he is now serving an 18-year
sentence. Horne planted incendiary devices, hidden in a packet of cigarettes,
in stores of which he disapproved. Horne’s activities were particularly
dangerous, however, because he planted his bombs in the products sold
at the stores.

One of his devices, for example,
was hidden in a leather bag which a woman subsequently bought. The device
wasn’t discovered until four months later, after the woman had allowed
her children to play with the bag. Horne’s activities represent an
extraordinarily callous disregard for human life, and he deserves every
single day of his jail term. As Ian Glen, who prosecuted Horne, told the
jury that convicted him, “the risks and dangers to human life were
blindingly obvious and the risks were either run or ignored for the sake
of political beliefs.”

That animal rights activists
would rally around such an individual speaks volumes about the moral compass
of the movement. Animal rights activists like to compare their cause to
the U.S. civil rights movement, but Martin Luther King Jr. and others
didn’t sneak around planting bombs in handbags – in fact the
civil rights movement activists were victims of the sort of violence the
animal rights movement perpetuates.

Medical researcher Colin
Blakemore, one of the targets of the ARM hit list, wrote an op-ed piece
noting something peculiar about those singled out for violence:

[When he was first targeted by activists] I was convinced that openness
offered the only route to understanding. But that very stance angers
the terrorists. It is surely significant that three of the four people
who were actually named for assassination by the Animal Rights Militia,
myself included, have participated in broadcast debates on the use of
animals in the past few weeks. The message is clear: defend yourself,
try to respond to criticism, and you may be killed. The perpetrators
of such tactics are not interested in dialogue: they are a lynch mob
that will not even give their victims the right to defend themselves.

The other important lesson
is that negotiating with terrorists only encourages more terrorism. As
Blakemore points out in his article, Horne and other animal rights activists
have been encouraged by a Labour government that actively courted them
during the most recent election cycle. According to Blakemore, Labour
accepted over 1 million pounds in donations from the International Fund for Animal Welfare and in exchange led animal rights activists to believe
it would convene a commission to look at modifying Great Britain’s
1986 Animals Act which regulates animal experimentation.

The Labour government did
follow throw by banning Cosmetics Testing, which was a rather minor
victory given how few such tests were actually being carried out in the
UK (most such tests are performed in the United States, Japan or France).
The British government should follow Blakemore’s advice and condemn
all animal rights violence and extremism.


I will talk to those who threaten to murder me. Colin Blakemore, Sunday Telegraph (UK), December 1998.

Horne: I’m dying to save ‘tortured’ animals. Yahoo! News, December 6, 1998.

‘I want to die. It’s the end.’ The Observer (UK), December 6, 1998.

Animal activist attacked shops with fire-bombs. Will Bennett, Electronic Telegraph, November 4, 1997.

‘Ruthless’ animal rights bomber convicted. Will Bennett, Electronic Telegraph, November 13, 1997.

Horne ends hunger strike. A.J. McIlroy, December 13, 1998.

Revealed: how Barry Horne refused to become a martyr for the cause. The Observer, December 20, 1998.

Animal rights protester ends hunger strike. ITV News, December 14, 1998.

Militant protests target Britain. Animal Liberation Front Press Office, Press Release, November 24, 1998.

Police fear backlash if animal activist dies. John Steele, November 26, 1998.

Supporters rally for hunger striker. The BBC, November 29, 1998.

Hunger striker back in jail. The BBC, December 11, 1998.

Ordinary guy heading for martyrdom. The Telegraph, December 7, 1998.

Day 53 of Hunger Strike. Animals Betrayed Coalition, Press Release, November 29, 1998.

Animal liberation prisoner close to death. North American Animal Liberation Front Press Release, November 22, 1998.

Prisoner in hunger protest ‘near death.’ The Independent (UK), November 22, 1998.

Animal liberation prisone hunger striker given last rites: Barry Horne to go into intensive care. Animals Betrayed Coalition, Press Release, November 23, 1998.

Animal liberation prisoner close to death. North American Liberation Front Press Office, Press Release, November 22, 1998.

ARM lists potential targets. Animal Liberation Front Press Office, Press Release, December 3, 1998.

Animal rights ‘hit list.’ The Guardian (UK), December 3, 1998.

Dolly Scientists on Security Alert. The Scottsman, December 3, 1998.

We’ll kill 10 if this man dies. The Mirror, December 3, 1998.

Scientists on alert after death threats. The BBC, December 4, 1998.

Justice Department issues warning

A communiqué signed only by “the
Justice Department” shows what happens when movements such as animal
rights begin providing a safe haven for people bent on violence. The release
promised retaliation against any animal rights activists who provides
information on terrorist acts committed by activists. Claiming that “our
movement is currently under threat from infiltrators, informers, and violent
animal abusers,” the communiqué warns. “Former ALF activists
have been suspected of feeding information into federal agents … this
will not be tolerated.”

Citing rumors that Josh Ellerman and Colby Ellerman supplied federal authorities with detailed information about
Animal Liberation Front activities, the communiqué warns, “they [animal rights
informants] will not rest in peace once released. We will be on the other
side of the fence waiting and we will find them wherever they hide …
The ALF have a clear policy of adherence to non-violence. We do not.”

I thought it was only hunters and
meat eaters who resorted to violence?