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Published on February 23rd, 2009 | by Jerry James Stone


FBI Arrests Four Animal Rights Activists, Claims “Terrorism”

Federal authorities have arrested four animal rights activists suspected in anti-vivisection actions in Santa Cruz and Alameda counties, a federal terrorism task force reported Friday.


The Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI arrested four animal rights activists as “terrorists.” Details of the arrests and the charges are still coming, but this is the most sweeping expansion of the War on Terrorism and the “Green Scare” to date.

Three of them were linked to the Riverside Avenue home police raided after the attempted home invasion attack of a UC Santa Cruz researcher a year ago. However, in what authorities consider the most egregious of animal rights-related incidents targeting UC scientists during the past year: two August 2008 firebombings at the homes of UCSC biomedical researchers.

These “terrorism” arrests are not related to that bombing, though. And they’re also not related to the destruction of property. These activists–Nathan Pope, Adriana Stumpo, Joseph Buddenberg, and Maryam Khajavi– were arrested for First Amendment activity. Lovely!

With the passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a sweeping new law labeling animal rights activists as “terrorists,” corporations and industry groups have been pushing the federal government to use their new powers. For more than two years, the law has sat on the shelf. The government has finally put it to use.

As background, a fierce campaign is being waged in California against animal research at the University of California system. There has been a wide range of both legal and illegal tactics. Illegal tactics have included the destruction of UC vans. In August, an incendiary device was left at the home of a UC researcher; no animal rights group has claimed responsibility for this crime, but the university, the FBI and others have recklessly attributed it to activists.

According to the act:

Whoever uses or causes to be used any facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise, and in connection with such purpose intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or an immediate family member, or conspires or attempts to do so, by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment or intimidation, shall be imprisoned for not more than five years.

Stephen E. Thorsett, the dean of UCSC’s Division of Physical and Biological Sciences. “Our students, staff, and faculty — who are doing important research into the causes and cures for human diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s — deserve to work and live in a safe environment, without fear that they and their families will be targets of violent actions and threats.”

The suspects will be charged at least in part under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which carries a penalty of up to five years for each violation. It wasn’t immediately clear how many counts the suspects will face when they appear in U.S. District Court later this month.

The foursome are accused of being involved in demonstrations in front of homes of UC Berkeley researchers in October 2007 and January 2008, as well a protest and home invasion attempt at the California Street house in February 2008. In that attack, which occurred during a child’s birthday party, the scientist’s husband suffered minor injuries. UCLA researchers have also been the target of firebombings.

“The investigation is still going on,” Schadler said. “There is much more being done. It doesn’t just stop with an arrest.”

Here are the four charges they are facing, according to

  • Protesting outside the home of a University of California Berkeley professor. Some activists, “wearing bandanas to hide their faces, trespassed on his front yard, chanted slogans, and accused him of being a murderer because of his use of animals in research.”
  • At another protest, activists “marched, chanted, and chalked defamatory comments on the public sidewalks in front of the residences.”
  • At one protest, a group of five or six activists allegedly “attempted to forcibly enter the private home of a University of California researcher in Santa Cruz.”
  • Fliers titled “Murderers and torturers alive & well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition” were found at a local coffee shop. They listed the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of several researchers. The fliers said “animal abusers everywhere beware we know where you live we know where you work we will never back down until you end your abuse.” The FBI says three of the defendants are tied to the “production and distribution of the fliers.”

Chalking, leafleting and protesting are crimes of violence?

I have to agree with Will Potter:

The government is chipping away at fringe elements, silencing the speech of so-called radicals as “terrorists.” But this is not the end, it is the beginning. Such an overt targeting of First Amendment activity puts every social movement, every activist, and every American at risk. Targeting free speech as “animal enterprise terrorism” sets a precedent set for targeting the speech of other activists as “defense enterprise terrorism,” “timber enterprise terrorism,” and “financial enterprise terrorism.”

At issue here is not the validity or morality of animal research, nor is it the efficacy of controversial tactics. Differences of opinion on those issues no longer matter. What’s at issue is whether the War on Terrorism should be used to target protesters as terrorists.

Source: Green Is the New Red

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About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.

  • Laura Johnson

    Nope. The AETA is a needed law. These domestic terrorists CUT THE BRAKES on the automobile of one of the California professors who happened to live on a steep hill…fortunately, the wife saw some strange liquid under the car and did not drive it. These people don’t care if they harm humans…and indeed, they target researchers who are doing research on animals that ONLY involves observation! Other radicals as these manage to turn off the electricity to fans cooling hogs in barns and hundreds of hogs died as a result. They have harassed some legitimate university researchers AND their families until the researchers stopped their work…work that is beneficial to humans! This is indeed terrorism. It is not protected by any laws. It is morally wrong and illegal activities and the AETA has produced the details to make it possible to go after these kinds of acts. Undoubtedly some of these radicals have even benefited from animal research…so they are hypocrites on top of everything else…

  • AK_Hounds

    Arrested for first amendment activity?? “…as well a protest and home invasion attempt at the California Street house in February 2008. In that attack, which occurred during a child’s birthday party, the scientist’s husband suffered minor injuries.” I’d say that’s *well* beyond ‘first amendment activity.’ I hope they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the AETA.

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  • Sergey Shelukhin

    I will not even argue about how “rights” are a social construct and animals don’t have them by definition…
    Even if you consider a “normal” animal rights perspective, these… people are much worse than what is commonly labeled as terrorists. Religious extremists were at least brainwashed from childhood by family and/or society; people who are able to arrive to conclusions about such stuff being justifiable by using the faculty of reason, much more so if some random organic automaton is protected against a scientist working towards the progress of mankind, have such a distorted, anti-human, anti-social worldview that they should be shot speedily the instance they carry out the act.

  • Animal Rights Coalition

    Abigail Adams said words to the effect:
    We are bound by no laws in which we had no voice.
    The conscience of each is sovereign.
    The FBI are the paid bullies of billionaires
    and their blood soaked bullion.
    God open the hearts of those who work for the FBI

  • Dan

    Not all Muslims hide, fund, and rhetorically defend terrorists, do they? Yet that’s exactly what you find with all Animal Rights groups.

  • Alex Felsinger


    That’s ridiculous. Are all Muslims terrorists in your eyes too?

    People can’t be help responsible for others’ actions.


  • Dan

    Laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and other outcomes that “silence Free Speech” are the problematic outcome when you have a movement that claims to merely peacefully protest during the day, and firebomb in secret at night. And until Animal Rights activists start enforcing the “peaceful” aspect of their movement in their own ranks, they’re all terrorists in my eyes.

  • Fossil

    Dear Judith;

    “Lies”, under your definitions, are accounts of an event for which there is considerable direct evidence, but which make you uncomfortable.

    And you needn’t be an admirer of Bush, Cheny and their ilk to realize that, as terrorists, they are completely outdone by the government of the Sudan, say, or the various armed factions in Zaire–or even (horror of horrors!) by the Islamic factions that have been doing most of the actual killing and maiming in Iraq these last five years.

    But then, a very malleable notion of “truth” is necessary to defend the animal-rights activist position, which, in the long run, threatens tokill or torment far more human beings than have ben victimized by the various terror campaigns alluded to above. The dirty little secret of “animal rights” is the covert joy its adherents feel at the prospect of human suffering.

  • ARPhilo

    J, many simulations and in vitro tests are around 80% effective in predicting human responses. Sure, it’s not 100%, but it’s far better than the 5-25% accuracy of nonhuman animal tests.

    You might as well be flipping a coin.

    Pennies are far less expensive (and more accurate) than animal research in predicting human response, so I suggest the scientists start there and save us all some money. After all, it’s our tax dollars that fund this crap.

    As for terrorism, these people aren’t being charged with firebombs. The “breaking and entering” part is still breaking and entering. And, it’s quite likely they didn’t do that since it’s the only thing that really doesn’t fit here. I would put money on the possibility that the researcher came out and started with one of them, but I can’t be sure. If they did do something like that, they do deserve to face the consequences… but not TERRORISM charges.

    The rest of the charges, if they do go through, will be very very bad news for the escalation of this blatant disregard for human and other animal rights. We had better watch our children, lest they write in chalk on the sidewalks…

  • Judith

    The Revolution has just begun! We who speak for the voiceless and innocent are here to stay! We have never hurt a human being, nor do we plan to! Fossil, you spew lies like the Bush and Cheney monsters who are the worst terrorist’s in the world! Shame on you for your filthy lies! Shame on you!

  • Fossil

    Note how this article soft-pedals what these clowns were up to; they not only tried to push their way into his home while his kids were there, they hit him in the arm with some kind of heavy object and injured him in the process.

    And in support of what? The crippling of medical research on which we all depend, een the animala-rights nuts.

  • Alex Felsinger


    Many scientists disagree with you.


  • Global Patriot

    Violence against others cannot be allowed, but at the same time, acts of protest must be protected if we are to live in a free society. There are plenty of laws on the books to protect the rights of citizens from violence, and that fact implies that this newfound definition of terrorism is overreaching to a large extent.

  • J

    “…even though in this day and age computers by means of simulation would be a far more efinicent [sic] way to go.”

    Please let me clear this up. There are NO good models that work in any way, shape, or form. The chemistry of the body is so complex that one change in one area can have profound effects on the whole body. Simulations at this point are, at most, 65-75% correct, and still miss major problems that could arise (look up the studies on Pubmed if you like). I don’t know abut you, but a 1 in 4 chance that a model was wrong and a drug could in fact kill someone is not good enough for me.

    Animal testing is still a needed part of life in the medical field, unless you can find people who will willingly face possible death as the first testers of a drug.

  • Rona

    In the UK we have laws against incitement to violence which are designed to combat racial hate in particular.

    Leafleting might appear to be a peaceful activity but if the matter which is being promoted is attempting to incite violent acts against people then there is a need for sanctions against such actions.

    The law enforcers do have a tendency to be too cavalier in their interpretation of anti-violence laws, however.

    I believe animal rights activists have to be more creative and less confrontational in order to win the argument – witness Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “ChickenOut” campaign against battery farming.

  • parrotgypsy

    the U.S. is seriously becomming a police state. one right after another will be eroded, until people stand up en masse.

  • ti ja

    There is a big difference between peaceful protest and terrorism. Terrorism is the use of physical threats to scare people into action. If these folks threaten other people’s physical existence in any way, than they are terrorist.

    Terrorist all around the world use the excuse that two wrongs make a right, but it never ever does. Revenge is never right.

  • Astrid

    They are not terrorists. If you want to call them terrorist, then you should also call the people torturing these animals terrorist. It’s a tough topic, it’s obvious by now that people on both sides believe they are in the right. The people treating the animals this way believe they are providing a service by the best means nessarsary, even though in this day and age computers by means of simulation would be a far more efinicent way to go. On the other the activist are doing all that they can to protect these animals whether it be with direct contact or by raising awareness. The sad nature of human in today’s world is that everything moves so quickly that the everyday things blend in with a sense of routine, and this can bring acceptance to things that shouldn’t be excepted. It takes a big event to wake us up, and get excited or terrified to create a force strong enough to will a reaction. Which is why on some level terrorism works. Yes people should be able to live their life without the fear of getting hurt or dying, but so should those animals. Just because some people may see them as a lower form of life, doesn’t mean they are, and that doesn’t they become products we can use however we see fit. Violence isn’t a good way to solve any kind of problem, no matter how much anyone thinks the life they are compromising or ending is.

    • Laura Johnson

      You are wrong. Computer simulation does not provide all the information that is not needed. How do I know this? I spent a year at university doing human dissection and in that course there were several bodies and we were able to see remarkable differences in various organs, blood vessel routes, etc. So when researchers work with live animals, they will learn MORE than when they simply work with a computer model. As for as terrorism working…well it does work to show how incredibly stupid these animal rights terrorists are. They are not working to IMPROVE the lives of animals OR humans, they are working to DISRUPT reasonable scientific research! Get a grip on reality and do some thinking beyond experiencing emotions!

  • ml

    They are terrorists. Instead of peacefully spreading their agenda, they are resorting to firebombings and break-ins. I’ve always found it ironic how these “activists” are fighting for the rights of animals by endangering the lives of humans and enjoying the benefits of medications and medical techniques developed by those that they condemn.

  • A. P.

    This Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a travesty. It distorts the legal system.

    We do NOT need a separate law that singles out activists who engage in illegal acts. If they step over the line and break the law, it’s NO different than any other criminal act and shouldn’t be treated as such.

    They do the same things as anyone else: trespassing, harassment, assault, battery—those are ALL already covered by our legal system.

    To single out any specific group and pretend that they somehow break the law differently fragments the judicial system. Calling them terrorists is pathetic. Who’s next? war protestors? ethnic activists? religious activities? Are we going to have separate laws to deal with each separately? Where will that lead? We are supposed to ONE under American law.

    This “terrorist” label is psychological warfare—it has no place in a civilized society with a reasoned and reasonable system of law that should treat everyone the same.

    • Eric Nix

      Bull shit! They got what they deserve!

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