November 12, 1996: Bombing at fur store in Minnesota

Extremists believed to belong to the Animal Liberation Front were behind a bomb at a Minnesota fur store in 1996.

Extremists believed to belong to the Animal Liberation Front were behind a bomb at a Minnesota fur store in 1996.

BLOOMINGTON, MINNESOTA – If I have a strong feeling against something am I allowed to use an act of terrorism to make my point?

The other night I was sitting around a fire in my backyard of my new home in small town, Ontario – we NEVER would have had this opportunity in Ottawa! – having a few beers and chatting with my wife and kids. The topic centred at first around Joe Biden’s presidential win over Donald Trump (a good thing for Americans indeed IMHO) and then moved on to terrorism. This often happens since they all know I live and breathe the topic.

We were talking about why some people have such strong views about things and believe that they have the right to impose these views on others, if necessary through the use of violence. If these acts of violence are indeed motivated by an underlying ideology they would qualify as terrorism.

A good example can be found with what is happening in India. Hindu extremists have been lynching anyone they see consuming beef, as cows are sacred to Hindus. The victims tend to be Indian Muslims (see my latest book When Religion Kills for a much deeper discussion on this) and the whole phenomenon has been nicknamed ‘cow vigilantism’.

In other words, a group of people who hold to a particular belief will kill you if you don’t kowtow (cowtow??) to theirs. Are we ok with this?

A parallel movement can be found among some animal rights activists. One part of this – the anti-fur lobby – is adamant that the slaughter of hairy beasts to make coats and muffs is wrong. On occasion, some have undertaken acts of extreme violence to demonstrate their convictions.

On this day in November 1996 a firebomb was thrown through a window at the Alaskan Fur Company in Bloomington, Minnesota (US), causing over $2 million in damage. The act was claimed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) which has been around since the 1970s and claims, among other things, that it will:

  • inflict economic damage on those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals.
  • 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.
  • reveal the horror and atrocities committed against animals behind locked doors, by performing nonviolent direct actions and liberations

Some see these adherents as criminals, others as heroes. Gee, what does that sound like? One man’s ‘freedom fighter’ is another man’s ‘terrorist’?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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