The Animal Liberation Front is an international leaderless movement that commits non-violent action (according to the ALF code) in the form of protest against animal cruelty. The ALF was established in 1976 by Ronnie Lee who was dissatisfied with the legal tactics used by British hunt sabotage groups. It started off being called ‘The Band of Mercy’ which has been a name that was revived from the RSCPA; the name was changed approximately 3 years later. This movement is known to be active in 20 countries currently.

During an interview with The Cranky Vegan on YouTube called ‘Ronnie Lee: He Started the Animal Liberation Front’ uploaded on 23rd of June 2020, Ronnie Lee said that one of the earliest successes for the ALF was against baby seal poachers, “We attacked the two fishing boats, and one was destroyed, and one was badly damaged.”. As a result of this attack, the fishermen stopped poaching baby seals for their coats.

Later Ronnie Lee was found and jailed for 10 years in 1987 for being guilty of conspiracy to commit arson and criminal damage, and conspiracy to incite others to commit criminal damage.

Actions taken by the group with the intention against animal cruelty could be removing animals from laboratories and farms and destroying or vandalizing the facilities. To place the animals into safe houses, veterinary care or operating sanctuaries. The animals are taken away from their constraints, anywhere from chains to stereotaxic devices and rehabilitated.

The ALF is not the only group that acts upon environmental causes. There are some similar groups such as the Earth Liberation Front (or ELF for short) which use economic sabotage and guerilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment. But have only been found in 17 countries. They have been often affiliated with the ALF both in ideology and action.

The Animal Liberation Front often operates ‘raids’ in small groups of friends and sometimes by one person to maintain secrecy and avoid monitoring. During their raids they destroy, and trash property often leaving graffiti. They of course take the suffering animals off the premises and into a safer facility.

More legal activist groups still praise the work that groups such as the Animal Liberation Front. PETA, a known animal rights organization suggests their stance on the ALF “Although the ALF and PETA have very different approaches, we will not condemn it for carrying out illegal actions in which no conscious being is harmed. It’s acting on overwhelming feelings of compassion when faced with evidence that violent acts are being carried out behind closed doors.” Then added that “On a number of occasions, the ALF’s break-ins have served to initiate investigations that exposed violations of law on the part of the animal abusers that would otherwise have gone unnoticed and/or unchecked.” (PETA, 2022).

The ALF was established on a code which claims their non-violent nature but there has been some breakage of the code in some attacks. They have sent bomb threats in the past towards institutes that bank on animal cruelty. Such as the bomb threats sent to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, United States, which have been claimed to be the ALF’s doing. This National Cancer Institute has been using animals to further cancer research.

To reiterate, eco-terrorism is the use of violence and terroristic action to further environmental causes. Oxford Dictionary further describes terrorism as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The cases where people have been harmed by the ALF are very insignificant but important. Many of the bomb threats that were thought of to be plotted by the ALF haven’t been claimed by them (as could be seen in the book, Animal Liberation Front: Complete Diary of Actions.).

There are records of arson that have been done by the members of ALF including Ronnie Lee, but this would be planned on empty or abandoned buildings where animals were kept or tortured. From my research, there seemed to be no report of the Animal Liberation Front harming or murdering anyone in these acts of activism.