The militant animal rights group SHAC has one goal: Cripple a lab that tests (and kills) dogs and monkeys. They say they're activists. The government calls them terrorists.
It starts with a telephone call.
The young man on the other end of the line will sound nice enough. He will be polite, but firm. He will give his name as Kevin Kjonaas, and he will want to talk about a company called Life Sciences Research, also known as Huntingdon Life Sciences. You may never have heard of Huntingdon, he will say, but you do business with them in some way. Maybe you are a senior executive for Huntingdon’s insurance company. Maybe you work for its bank. Maybe you trade its stock.
The young man will tell you that Huntingdon kills puppies, among other animals — 500 of them every day. “Do you know what sort of company you’re dealing with?” he will ask. He will offer to send you some literature and videotapes documenting Huntingdon’s cruelty. He will tell you to stop dealing with Huntingdon.
Stephan Boruchin, a 61-year-old NASDAQ trader based in Edmond, Okla., got the call in June 2002. It was the last ordinary day of his life.
Boruchin, who likes to be called Skip, trades in about 180 stocks through his firm Legacy Trading, and he didn’t know too much about Huntingdon. He didn’t think much of the call — everyone’s entitled to an opinion. He didn’t heed the young man’s advice. He doesn’t remember which incident came first, and when he recounts his next three years the story tumbles out in a jumble of violence, exasperation and fear. There was the hammer hurled through his office window one night, followed by a military smoke bomb. There was the firebomb placed in the same office, which failed to detonate. There was the call to his 90-year-old mother, who passed away last year, at her nursing home at 2 a.m., demanding his cellphone number. (The caller insisted it was an emergency.) There was the time, back when his mother was still alive, that someone called an undertaker to come pick up her body. There were the things she started receiving in the mail: subscriptions to pornographic magazines, various sex toys, an envelope filled with white powder. There were the letters — 19 of them — warning his neighbors that he would trade in child pornography if it were legal and urging them to run him out of town. There was the night they splashed red paint all over his brother-in-law’s home in Nebraska. There were the solid black sheets of paper sent to his fax machine, jamming it for hours at a time. There were the phone calls — “Fucking puppy killer! [click]” — 2,000 of them in a row on bad days.
Worst, perhaps, was the night they wrote “Skip is a murderer” in red paint all over Boruchin’s home as he and his wife slept. The paint didn’t bother him; that was easy enough to clean up. It was that they’d cut his phone lines. Just to let him know they could.
They are adherents of SHAC — Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty — and they are the new, balaclava-clad face of animal rights activism. Unlike People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or any number of other advocacy groups that use letter-writing campaigns or celebrity endorsements to oppose fur farms and city pounds, SHAC has a sole reason to exist: to put Huntingdon, a lab that earns about $157 million each year testing pharmaceuticals and other substances on animals, out of business. They do more than hold signs and chant rhyming slogans outside corporate headquarters. SHAC’s supporters pursue their goal ferociously, relentlessly and often violently. They find out where the executives live. They go to their homes. They beat them with ax handles or pour paint stripper on their cars. And then they post taunting accounts on their Web site, which has a sophisticated design and an often wickedly funny tabloid sensibility. They are young, articulate and angry, and they take glee in hurting and frightening Huntingdon’s employees and investors — and anyone who does business with them.
Skip Boruchin has nothing against animals. He gives his pet bird, which has a skin condition, a special chemical bath so its feathers won’t fall off. His crime was offering Huntingdon his services as a market maker, someone who keeps shares of a company on hand for potential buyers. Without market makers, stocks can’t be readily traded. Boruchin is what the FBI calls a secondary or tertiary target. SHAC went after him because he was the last market maker willing to work with Huntingdon. Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, the Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs — all have washed their hands of the company after becoming targets. SHAC and allied groups have also gone after Huntingdon’s investors and suppliers, and even British Airways, an airline that transported monkeys from Africa for testing in Huntingdon’s labs. It once carved the words “puppy killers” into a green at a golf course where a director of the parent company of Huntingdon’s insurance brokerage was scheduled to play.
Last week, the animal liberation magazine Bite Back published an open letter from two anonymous SHAC supporters to Brian Guenard, an executive at Columbia Asset Management, a firm that SHAC says invests in Huntingdon. It reads in part: “We have ‘bumped into you’ at Genuardi’s and watched you in and out of CVS — but I guess you didn’t notice [sic]. We followed when you took your little brat to the Gymboree and then to Chuck E Cheese’s. We know you take that little brat to the doctor at Buckingham Pediatrics, and we made sure that they were sent information about HLS and how you and your husband make money off of animal cruelty.” Bank of America, Columbia’s parent company, has sought an injunction against SHAC.
SHAC’s modus operandi is simple, elegant and shockingly effective: Publish the names, home addresses and telephone numbers of executives and employees of Huntingdon and any companies it does business with; identify these individuals as “targets”; urge people to let targets know how they feel about Huntingdon’s treatment of puppies; and, of course, add a disclaimer disavowing illegal activity of any sort.
David Blekinsop, an activist affiliated with SHAC, apparently missed that last part. In 2001 he and two other men approached Huntingdon’s managing director, Brian Cass, as he arrived home from work in England, where Huntingdon was based at the time, and beat him with wooden ax handles. When a neighbor tried to intervene, one of the men sprayed tear gas in his face. Cass was left with a three-inch gash in his head. Blekinsop pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The combination of righteous violence, indignant mischief and sharp, witty Web dispatches has launched SHAC from the dowdy world of vegans into something approaching a global brand: “Thugs for Puppies,” perhaps. Instead of mewling accounts of liberated cows or paeans to the Earth Goddess, the group offers cheery reports of “home demos,” in which angry protesters use bullhorns to scream at targets’ windows.
According to the FBI, the group is one of the top domestic terror threats in the United States. In May of last year, FBI officials told Congress, to the surprise of many, that animal and environmental rights extremism is now the most dangerous homegrown terror threat, specifically citing SHAC. One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Daniel Andreas San Diego, is being sought in connection with two firebombings at Chiron Corp., a California pharmaceutical firm targeted by SHAC. In October, at U.S. Senate hearings devoted solely to SHAC’s activities in the U.S., John Lewis, the deputy assistant director of the FBI, testified that “SHAC has conducted a relentless campaign of terror and intimidation … including bombings, death threats, vandalism, office invasions [and] phone blockades.” In a November 2005 “60 Minutes” interview, Lewis said there were more than 150 current federal investigations into animal rights and environmental extremists. His fear, Lewis told correspondent Ed Bradley, was the emergence of a violent “lone wolf” in the mold of the Unabomber. Last month, federal prosecutors in Oregon indicted what they described as a “cell” of Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front operatives for a string of 17 arsons across the West.
The most aggressive legal action to date against SHAC culminated in May 2004, when, after a three-year federal investigation involving more than 100 FBI and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents, a grand jury in New Jersey indicted SHAC USA; its president, Kevin Kjonaas; its campaign coordinator, Lauren Gazzola; and five others for conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, interstate stalking and telephone harassment. The investigation, which involved members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, generated the highest number of authorizations for telephone wiretaps and electronic surveillance of any case in 2003 — more than 141,000. Even with this mountain of evidence, the indictment of the SHAC 7, as they’ve become known, cites almost no direct criminal acts. Instead the case is largely based on the group’s Web site and what prosecutors call a “conspiracy of terror” to “incite [SHAC followers] to cause physical … and emotional harm.” The trial, for which jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday, has the potential to become a landmark First Amendment case.
“I love these court cases,” says Pamelyn Ferdin, the current president of SHAC USA. (Kjonaas stepped down after his indictment.) “Because that is a whole other way to educate the public.” Ferdin, 47, is positively chirpy. She has an easy laugh, and over the phone sounds enthusiastic and fun — an extremist Katie Couric. Which makes it jarring to hear her declare, musing about the potential consequences of a conviction for the SHAC activists on trial, “People, I think, are going to get hurt. There’s going to be a lot of violence.”
Ferdin was a childhood actor. She traces her militancy on behalf of animals in part to her recurring role as a deaf girl on “Lassie,” her voice-over work as Lucy on the classic “Charlie Brown” cartoons — Snoopy was a beagle, the preferred breed for Huntingdon’s experimentation, owing to its docile nature — and her role as the voice of Fern in “Charlotte’s Web.”
“I saved Wilbur the pig,” Ferdin says with pride. “When I said, ‘Daddy, please don’t kill Wilbur,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’m killing him because he’s the runt.’ And I said, ‘If I had been born a runt, would you have killed me?’ And, I don’t know, I think at that time in my life I just started thinking about the oppressed and the underdog and the underpig and the underchicken.” Ferdin’s husband, Jerry Vlasak, is a trauma surgeon who also happens to co-run the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, an official liaison between the public and underground animal rights activists. Vlasak made waves recently, on “60 Minutes” and in congressional testimony, when he implied that he wouldn’t mind if a few vivisectionists got knocked off, considering how many animals would be saved.
Ferdin is slightly more presentable. “I don’t break the law,” she says. “My role is to be a squeaky-clean representative for SHAC USA. I think this trial will prove that there were no laws broken.” But Ferdin’s not squeamish about civil disobedience: “Protesting against a corporation that does evil — that shouldn’t be illegal. That should be righteous. Look at the Boston Tea Party: talk about property damage. I’m sure the tea cost someone a lot of money.”
As for tactics that harm people, Ferdin personally disavows violence. She believes, however, that it’s SHAC’s message, not its methods, that most troubles authorities. “Americans are totally in support of firebombing and killing and blowing little kids apart in Iraq. It’s not the tactics. It’s the belief that’s controversial. The tactics — Americans, they love that shit.”
“Let’s just say this,” she adds. “SHAC USA supports what all Americans would support if their children were locked up, being experimented on, with their limbs being severed, with their eyes being burned out. That’s what SHAC USA supports.”
Evidently, that’s what Charles Schulz would have supported, too. “Schulz loved beagles. He would have done whatever he could have done to stop these poor beagles, these Snoopys, from being slaughtered needlessly inside these death camps. Charles Schulz, God rest his soul, would be very proud of me. If he were alive today, he would be calling me up and saying, ‘You go, girl!’”
Ferdin’s sense of pride is somewhat understandable, given how effectively the group has pursued its mission. SHAC was founded in Worcestershire, England, in November 1999 by Greg Avery, a former tailor and longtime animal rights activist who cut his teeth by hectoring breeders who sold dogs and cats to research labs. His efforts were an immediate, astonishing success. Within two years, following a campaign of smearing superglue on ATMs belonging to any banks that dealt with Huntingdon, every commercial bank in England cut ties with the company. The British government was forced to take the extraordinary step of providing Huntingdon a special account at the Bank of England. Two years later the British government again stepped in, this time by floating an insurance policy to Huntingdon after its insurer, Marsh Corp., bowed to pressure.
Last September SHAC claimed its biggest victory thus far when, at the eleventh hour, the New York Stock Exchange chose to delay Huntingdon’s listing for unspecified reasons, following what SHAC claims were 10,000 e-mails sent in protest. Huntingdon executives had already arrived at the exchange for the listing ceremony when they got the bad news.
Late last month, SHAC struck another blow when Boruchin, who had insisted on continuing to trade in Huntingdon’s stock on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board for years in the face of nearly constant harassment, was forced to abandon the company. SHAC supporters had targeted Sterne, Agee, and Leach, an Alabama-based clearing firm that Boruchin used for back-end administrative support for his stock trades — making sure that stock certificates get sent to the right parties for each trade, etc. In early January, SHAC sent out an e-mail containing the names and e-mail addresses of dozens of Sterne, Agee, and Leach employees and urging activists to “ask [them] not to unwittingly keep [Huntingdon] in business by supporting Legacy in any way, shape or form.” Sterne, Agee, and Leach, Boruchin says, wanted nothing to do with it. “They said to us, ‘If you continue with that stock, we will not do business with you,’” Boruchin says. He reluctantly stopped making a market for Huntingdon last week.
Sterne, Agee, and Leach executives did not return multiple phone calls. Although Huntingdon executives did not comment for this story, in Senate testimony last October, Huntingdon general counsel Mark Bibi described Legacy Trading as the only market maker consistently making a market in Huntingdon’s stock. While Huntingdon’s stock is still being traded on what is known as the Pink Sheets, a fourth-tier penny stock market, there are no more market makers for it on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board, a more exclusive stock market considered just below the NASDAQ. The upshot of all this, Boruchin says, is that Huntingdon’s stock can no longer be purchased by many institutional investors and hedge funds, whose regulations often forbid them from trading in volatile Pink Sheet stocks.
There is nothing illegal, or even necessarily distasteful, about activists pressuring a firm through e-mails and phone calls. But much of SHAC’s success hinges on the fact that firms like Sterne, Agee, and Leach are often aware that hammers and ax handles might come next. Avery disavows violence, and blames the dozens of criminal acts attributed to SHAC in England on the Animal Liberation Front, an underground affiliation of violent activists who act as the unofficial muscle behind SHAC’s campaign. The distinction between “the SHAC campaign” and “the SHAC organization” is important to Avery. The former is a worldwide network of people who want to shut down Huntingdon, some of whom will do whatever it takes. The latter is a legitimate, above-ground protest group that identifies Huntingdon executives and other companies that do business with Huntingdon as targets for legal protest. If those targets get hurt by anonymous elements in the SHAC campaign, well, that’s not Avery’s fault. “I’m against all violence, whether it be against animals or human beings,” he says. If he did support illegal violence, Avery says, he certainly wouldn’t spend his time talking to reporters.
Avery has been in prison nine times, including one stint for “threatening behavior.” According to a 2004 Sunday Guardian story, he admitted in court in 2001 to bullying a Huntingdon executive, telling him, “We’ve got your car number. We missed you last night. The police don’t want to protect scum like you.” (The same Guardian story also reported Avery’s nickname, “Greedy Greg,” so called because he lives with his current and former wives under the same roof.) When asked if he hates Brian Cass and the other Huntingdon executives he has monitored for years — many of whom he refers to by first name, as if he were talking about his neighbors — this is how he responds: “Oh, definitely. Definitely. I really hate him. Zero respect for him. Hate him. Hate can be a good thing if it’s channeled correctly.”
In March 2003 the U.K. arm of SHAC succeeded in literally running Huntingdon out of the country. Figuring that looser financial reporting standards in the United States would make it harder for SHAC to identify and target shareholders, Huntingdon reincorporated as a Maryland company and moved its headquarters to a facility it had maintained in New Jersey since 1995.
Founded in 1952, Huntingdon tests pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, food additives and other substances on animals. This research, conducted on behalf of companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, is often a legal requirement for bringing the drugs and chemicals to market. Generally speaking, each toxicology report involves a control group and three test groups of animals, which receive doses orally, topically or by injection. After the experiments the animals are killed and dissected. In some cases the animals are anesthetized and dissected while they are still alive — vivisected.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates conditions in animal labs, there are more than 2,000 facilities registered to conduct research on lab animals in the U.S. — though that doesn’t include facilities that experiment on rats, mice or birds, which are beyond the USDA’s legal grasp. The USDA doesn’t tally the number of animals killed in the course of research, but the Research Defense Society, a British advocacy group that supports animal experimentation, estimates that animals undergo roughly 15 million “procedures” a year in the United States. Many, if not all, of them are killed.
Right or wrong, animal testing currently plays an integral role in the development of new drugs in America. The Food and Drug Administration requires that all new drugs be tested on animals for toxicity prior to being tested in humans. “We ask for results of animal tests to protect public health,” says David Jacobson-Kram, associate director for pharmacology and toxicology in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. There is virtually no new drug — from Viagra to Prozac to Claritin — that has been brought to market in recent decades without a large number of animals dying in the process. Animal rights activists argue that animal testing is anachronistic — that better information about how a drug will affect humans can be gleaned from computer models and cell cultures than by injecting it into a beagle. Jacobson-Kram agrees that science is moving in that direction, but says that, in the meantime, animals are essential. “It would be near impossible to develop new drugs without experimental models,” he says. If animals were removed from the picture, “it would bring drug development either to a complete stop, or make it such a slow progression as to be almost useless.”
In 2000, the latest year for which figures are available, Huntingdon killed 71,507 animals in its two British labs. Although the vast majority of these were rats, the company also tests and kills fish, birds, rabbits, sheep, cows, pigs, cats, monkeys and dogs. Huntingdon’s three labs account for a tiny percentage of all test animals killed worldwide.
In 1997, after a British television program aired undercover footage (warning: graphic content) of Huntingdon employees punching a beagle in the face, shouting at the dogs, and holding them by the legs and shaking them violently as the dogs yowled, the firm’s operating license was suspended for six months. In 1998, after PETA released undercover video (warning: graphic content) of monkeys being thrown around by their arms and what appeared to be the dissection of a conscious monkey in Huntingdon’s New Jersey lab, the USDA fined the company $50,000 for 28 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Last month, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a quasi-governmental agency empowered to sue to enforce state animal protection laws, filed a suit against Huntingdon for violations based largely, according to the Associated Press, on the same footage.
SHAC’s campaign has done more than just frighten and humiliate Huntingdon employees; it has put the entire enterprise on shaky financial footing. Earnings were down 38 percent for the third quarter of 2005, and company stock, which traded at $15 in 1999, dropped to as low as $1 in 2004. Though it currently trades at around $11, in September 2006, as Avery delights in pointing out, a $41.1 million loan the company took out in 2001 is comes due for repayment. As of September, Huntingdon had $12 million in cash on hand. Huntingdon executives did not return repeated phone calls for comment.
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At around 6 a.m. on May 26, 2004, Lauren Gazzola awoke to the sound of a ringing telephone. She was living with Kevin Kjonaas and Jacob Conroy in a house in Pinole, a quiet suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. The three had moved there a few months before from a house in Somerset, N.J. — just a few miles from Huntingdon’s New Jersey lab — that prosecutors describe as the headquarters of SHAC USA. Kjonaas, a University of Minnesota political science graduate whose activism stems from fond memories of a beloved childhood pet (a beagle named Barney), founded SHAC’s American arm in 2004 after spending two years working alongside Greg Avery in England.
The phone call was from a friend warning that a fellow activist had been arrested. Before Gazzola could fall asleep again, she heard a helicopter overhead. Moments later, FBI agents in riot gear, guns drawn, burst through the front door, arrested the three housemates and began searching the house. In separate raids that morning agents swept up “SHAC associates,” as the indictment refers to them, Joshua Harper, Andrew Stepanian, Darius Fullmer and John McGee. The arrests came just nine days before Gazzola, a graduate of New York University, was scheduled to take the LSAT.
The indictment of the SHAC 7 provides a detailed account of what prosecutors call “attacks” on a variety of targets: Huntingdon; its insurance brokerage Marsh Corp.; investors Stephens Inc. and Quilcap; the Bank of New York and Wein Securities, which traded Huntingdon stock; and a client, Chiron Corp. It quotes liberally from the SHAC USA Web site (“Let Marsh know that we are about to raise the premium on pain”) and meticulously attempts to link specific posts to subsequent acts: “On or about February 10, 2002, the SHAC Website listed M. Corp. [Marsh Corp.] as a target … On or about March, 2002, the SHAC Website listed the names and addresses of various M. Corp. employees around the United States … On or about March 9, 2002, the home of SD, an employee of M. Corp., was vandalized.” The indictment’s pièce de résistance is a lengthy quote from the “Top 20 terror tactics” posted on the SHAC USA site, which, in addition to listing several perfectly lawful practices, suggests “physical assault including spraying cleaning fluid into one’s eyes”; “smashing the windows of one’s house while the individual’s family was at home”; and “threats to kill or injure one’s partner or children.”
Apart from the main charge against SHAC, conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 (a law specifically aimed at animal rights activists that makes it a crime to physically disrupt lawful businesses that rely on animals, from circuses to pet stores to labs), the group stands accused of conspiracy to stalk and conspiracy to make abusive phone calls. The defendants face up to 23 years in federal prison and upward of $1.25 million in fines. The prosecution’s case rests on the theory that, via its Web site, SHAC USA urged people to commit violent “direct actions,” provided the information (addresses, phone numbers) needed to commit them, and then wrote after-action wrap-ups that were “designed to spur similar action against other targets and to warn other targets that they, too, would be subjected to direct action.”
That’s certainly the message received by Skip Boruchin. “I consider everybody whom I’ve come into contact with from SHAC to be very bright,” he says. “Initially, they’re like anybody else — you get more done with carrots than sticks. But their soft, nice approach lasted about 20 minutes. And then it’s, ‘Look at the actions we’ve taken. Look at what we’ve done to other people. Look at our Web site.’”
Upon close inspection, however, the indictment turns out to be a masterwork of the passive voice. E-mails “were sent,” “rocks were thrown,” “a smoke bomb was set off.” Only one of the named defendants, John McGee, was directly accused of a discrete criminal act (slashing the tires of a Huntingdon employee’s car) and charges against him have since been dropped. The government, unable to identify the perpetrators of crimes detailed in the indictment — none of which, defense lawyers point out, are federal offenses taken individually — can only claim that in the context of the direct-action campaigns, SHAC’s Web postings constituted a criminal conspiracy.
“Conspiracies are agreements to commit an illegal act,” says Gazzola. “They are alleging that we conspired to speak through a Web site, and that the speech on that Web site disrupted these companies.” Gazzola, a 26-year-old from Connecticut, is anxious to get the trial behind her so she can get on with applying to law school. She rescheduled her LSAT, and scored in the 97th percentile.
“I was exposed to SHAC through the music scene,” Gazzola says when asked how she found herself screaming at people’s homes through a bullhorn at dawn. “We’d go to shows and people would have tables set up.” She lets out a girlish “Oh, God” when asked what bands she was into, recalling with embarrassment her high school days. “Hardcore bands. Earth Crisis” — a strait-laced, vegan, heavy-metal band devoted to animal liberation. “At the time, in the late 1990s, the hardcore scene was very political.” But, she says, sounding more like someone eager to distance herself from teenage awkwardness than, say, a domestic terrorist, “I’m not really about that anymore.”
The supreme irony of her case, Gazzola says, is that most of the words the government finds so incendiary weren’t written by the SHAC 7. The after-action reports, she says, were all e-mails sent in by anonymous correspondents. And the “Top 20 terror tactics”? They were written and published by the Research Defense Society, the British think tank devoted to combating animal rights extremism; they were written by SHAC’s enemies to make SHAC look bad. SHAC posted them on its own site with ironic intent — as a snide “Fuck you”– with the further ironic admonition, “Don’t get any ideas.”
“Basically,” she says, “we’ve been alleged to have conspired to cut and paste other people’s words onto a Web site.”
“Any commonsense approach to the facts of this case would suggest that this isn’t about the First Amendment,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office. “It’s about stopping criminal behavior. My favorite is how they say the SHAC Web site only reports how these things happen. Quote my ironic laugh. We’ll have to leave it to a jury to decide where the excuses end.”
Supporters of SHAC tread on uneasy ground when it comes to the question whether their activities can properly be called terrorism. On the one hand, they scoff at the conflation of what they regard as legitimate, if muscular, protest with the actions of someone like Osama bin Laden. “Civil disobedience doesn’t mean I’m an international terrorist,” says H. Louis Sirkin, Gazzola’s lawyer. “Where’s the intimidation? They’re not intimidating anybody. They’re laying out facts.”
On the other hand, the entire SHAC campaign would be useless if people weren’t fearful of doing business with Huntingdon. Intimidation is the point. “I’m not saying that there aren’t some companies who fear that the ALF is going to come around and smash their house up,” Greg Avery says. “We don’t live in a naive dream world where we think everybody stops dealing with Huntingdon because they like lovely bunnies and want to save all the beagles. Of course they don’t.”
The convenient firewall between the above-ground campaign leaders of SHAC and the underground, uncontrollable activists of ALF is not always clear-cut. Kevin Kjonaas (who declined through his attorney to comment for this story) was, according to a 2002 Philadelphia Inquirer story, an acquaintance of David Blenkinsop’s, Brian Cass’ ax-handle attacker, during his time in London. Kjonaas told the Inquirer, “David is a very passionate person, and what he did was done with the best intentions.” Kjonaas was also apparently familiar with Daniel Andreas San Diego, the firebomber at large: According to court documents filed in the SHAC case, wiretaps of Kjonaas’ telephone show San Diego calling him on the day of the Chiron bombings.
Boruchin has no doubt that it’s terrorism. “Fear is part of their motivation,” he says. “How do you go to bed at night knowing that these people have been within three feet of my bedroom window? They bragged about it.”
Pamelyn Ferdin has already moved beyond worrying about guys like Boruchin. “I think the SHAC campaign has already been won, and closing Huntingdon is just a formality. Because for five years this international effort has gripped the animal rights movement. Of course the primary objective is closing Huntingdon. But by no stretch of the imagination is this where our goals stop.” So, should senior executives at, say, KFC, be worried? “I would think so.”
Ferdin cackles raucously when asked about the FBI’s fear of a “lone wolf” extremist setting sights on SHAC targets. “It’s not the lone wolf they should be afraid of. It’s thousands of, not wolves, but thousands of humans they should be afraid of. Wolves can’t do nearly the damage that thousands of irate, pissed-off animal rights activists can do. If things continue the way they are, it’s just a matter of time.”
John Cook, a former writer for the Chicago Tribune, has also written for the New York Times magazine, Chicago magazine and Slate. More John Cook.
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