Leadership and Leadership Structure of the Animal Liberation Front

This paper will analyze the leadership and leadership structure of the terrorist organization, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The Animal Liberation Front is a terrorist organization that operates throughout the world and does so anonymously. The terrorist group was created by two men – Ronnie Lee and Cliff Goodman[1]— who became dissatisfied with the results of their actions as members of another animal rights activist group. The Animal Liberation Front is based on a network model because of its autonomous, entrepreneurial, and disconnected characteristics as well as temporary linkages. The goal of the Animal Liberation Front’s leaders’ is to create awareness of animal abuse while acquiring forces to destroy industries owned by animal rights violators by causing financial loss through the means of destruction of property. Their leadership dictates the idea of preserving the rights of animals and projecting their campaign in a non-violent manner to avoid harming animals, including humans. However, this terrorist organization’s lack of a centralized leadership allows for unpredictable variables to arise, making the acts of terror almost impossible to foresee and control.

The Animal Liberation Front began in the early 1970s with thirty members and the founder, Lee, but there is no direct evidence of Lee being the central leader[2]. The acts of violence committed by the original members were planned and executed as a group effort. However, the efforts made by Lee gave way to the development of the movement’s structure. Lee’s ambition and his commitment to this movement helped transform it into an international movement. This has allowed anyone to become a leader in their own way by demonstrating the injustice of animal abuse.[3]

One of the key aspects of the Animal Liberation Front is that its members are autonomous actors, every member is working toward the same goal but each cell of activists does not need to know other groups’ plans. These small autonomous cells of animal rights activists can be found throughout the world as a form of leaderless resistance forming on their own.[4] This organization has no formal structure and may act under the name of ALF or the Earth Liberation Front,[5] which makes the crimes and criminals indistinguishable when government officials try to gather more information about the specific terrorist organization.[6] Those who wish to join the cause for protecting animal rights are already considered a member as long as they follow the operational guidelines listed on the ALF website, such as how to carry out an act of terror that would be sufficient to consider themselves a member of the organization.[7]

The members and various cells of the Animal Liberation Front are entrepreneurial in that they create the plans they want to carry out by themselves and they implement it themselves[8] without a means of central authority.[9] These members never formally join the organization and do not pay dues; therefore, governments are unable to locate a definitive list of people who have participated in acts of terror and the organization has no central finance system.[10] The anonymous acts of violence may have temporary links when a larger project is necessary, but the event is isolated and the entire organization is unaware of the combined actions until the guidelines of ALF have been fulfilled.[11]

The lack of a centralized leader does not explicitly harm the efforts of the Animal Liberation Front because if the plans of action were centralized government officials could easily connect each member of the organization causing the whole organization to disintegrate. The organization works anonymously in order to gain more support and to maintain the acts of violence from being connected to the group unless it was successful in saving the life of animals and promoting their rights. The Animal Liberation Front’s lack of leadership gives it a key upper hand in the ability of the organization to commit acts of terror and will continue to do so until their requests are met to end the exploitation and abuse of animals.

[1] This animal rights organization was known as the Hunt Saboteurs Association. Lee and Goodman felt as though action should be taken against the laboratories and factory farms that utilize animals and not simply just the animals hunted for recreation. More information can be found here: Jennifer l. Hesterman, Terrorist-Criminal Nexus : An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups (London: CRC Press, 2013), Page 109.; Gus Martin and Harvey W. Kushner, The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011), Page 45-47.; Harry Henderson, Global Terrorism (New York: Facts On File, 2004), Page 80.

[2] Ronnie Lee was an animal rights activist who was a member of the Hunt Saboteur chapter in Luton, England in 1971. Some of the actions taken by the Animal Liberation Front are often associated with the Hunt Saboteur groups during the 1960s, but they were independent of each other. More information regarding Ronnie Lee can be found here: Martin, Gus, and Kushner, Harvey W. The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. 2nd ed.Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011,; “Animal Liberation Front,” Animal Liberation Front, September 10, 2015, http://www.animalliberationfront.com/.

[3] The Animal Liberation Front does not address who their leader is on their website, but there is a way to ask question or comment by emailing Ann Berlin, annxtberlin@gmail.com. This shows that there is some form of leadership beyond the individual cells dispersed around the world, but they are the remain anonymous. “Animal Liberation Front,” Animal Liberation Front, September 10, 2015, http://www.animalliberationfront.com/.

[4] The areas in which cells of the Animal Liberation Front can be found and have committed an act of terror include: Ireland, England, Iceland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia, Albania, Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Honduras, China, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, South Sudan, South Africa, Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tunisia, and Sierra Leone. Gus Martin and Harvey W. Kushner, The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011), Page 43.; Harry Henderson, Global Terrorism (New York: Facts On File, 2004), Page 21,; “Animal Liberation Front,” Animal Liberation Front, September 10, 2015, http://www.animalliberationfront.com/.

[5] The Earth Liberation Front is a partnering organization that also commits acts of violence in order to stop the destruction and exploitation of the environment. More about the ELF can be found here: Brigitte Lebens Nacos, Terrorism and Counterterrorism : Understanding Threats and Responses in the Post-9/11 World. 3rd ed. (Boston: Longman, 2010),; Gus Martin and Harvey W. Kushner, The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. 2nd ed.(Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011), Page 45.; Stefan H. Leader and Peter Probst, “The Earth Liberation Front and Environmental Terrorism,” Terrorism and Political Violence15, no. 4 (01, 2003): 37-58.

[6] Harry Henderson, Global Terrorism (New York: Facts On File, 2004), Page 80.; Christine M. Jackson, “The Fiery Fight for Animal Rights,” The Hastings Center

Report 19, no. 6 (1989): Page 39.

[7] “Animal Liberation Front,” Animal Liberation Front, September 10, 2015, http://www.animalliberationfront.com/.; The ALF guidelines are as follows: “1. To liberate animals from places of abuse, i.e. laboratories, factory farms, fur farms, etc, and place them in good homes where they may live out their natural lives, free from suffering. 2. To inflict economic damage to those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals. 3. To reveal the horror and atrocities committed against animals behind locked doors, by performing non-violent direct actions and liberations. 4. To take all necessary precautions against harming animal, human and non-human. 5. To analyze the ramifications of any proposed action and never apply generalizations (e.g. all ‘blank’ are evil) when specific information is available.”

[8] For example, Rodney Coronado was a member of the Animal Liberation Front and he is considered to be the “first animal rights activist to serve time in a federal prison for actions against animal exploitation in the United States.” In 1995 he spent 57 months in prison for his involvement in ALF’s anit-fur campaign that took place in five states across the US. Coronado was the only person convicted of a crime because of the organization’s lack of leadership and network model structure. Coronado was a key organizer in ALF plans such as “Silver Spring monkeys” from Tulane University in 1990. This is a prime example of the isolated plans of attack and execution.; Gus Martin and Harvey W. Kushner, The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. 2nd ed.(Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011), Page 140.

[9] Jennifer l. Hesterman, Terrorist-Criminal Nexus : An Alliance of International Drug

Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups (London: CRC Press, 2013), Page 110. Monaghan, “Not Quite Terrorism: Animal Rights Extremism in the United

Kingdom.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36, no. 11 (2013): 937.

[10] Brigitte Lebens Nacos, Terrorism and Counterterrorism : Understanding Threats and

Responses in the Post-9/11 World. 3rd ed. (Boston: Longman, 2010), Page 68-69.

[11] Brigitte Lebens Nacos, Terrorism and Counterterrorism : Understanding Threats and

Responses in the Post-9/11 World. 3rd ed. (Boston: Longman, 2010), Page 68.

 

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