FILES obtained under a Freedom of Information request have laid bare the sinister tactics of the Animal Liberation Front.
Previously unseen FBI documents detail how a small restaurant was threatened with being burned down for selling foie gras and rabbit dishes.
Repeated phone calls to the Inn at Little Washington, Virginia, USA, left owners and staff terrified.
In December 2012, two front-desk clerks received the calls threatening “all hell will be unleashed”and “we are watching you”.
The sinister caller had a single demand – that the restaurant stop serving foie gras—goose or duck liver dish and rabbit dishes.
The voice warned the clerks that if the restaurant failed to comply, the group he worked for would spray-paint the hotel red and burn it down.
The caller indicated that he knew where all of the hotel’s employees lived, saying, “You’ve been warned.”
According to 44 pages of FBI documents obtained by FOI request, the caller was a representative of the Animal Liberation Front, a 40-year-old animal rights organisation.
The agency has designated the group a terrorist organisation.
The FBI has been investigating the ALF for decades and its special agents routinely generate new reports on the leaderless movement’s criminal activities.
The newly released files detail the incident at the Inn at Little Washington and reveal how the FBI’s counterterrorism division handled the threatening phone calls made by the animal rights activism group.
Papers in the file request “supervisory special agent approval” to open a grand jury file.
The documents note that the federal prosecutor assigned to the case agreed to prosecute the caller if the FBI could find his identity and obtain evidence that he committed a crime.
The file reveals some rare details about the FBI’s collection of phone data from targeted phone numbers.
The document also refers to a “legal instrument” authorising the FBI to collect such information from various phone companies.
It means that the FBI obtained all the phone numbers that called the inn within a specific date range in an effort to locate the ALF member.
However, the details of what happened next cannot be revealed has they were redacted from the file.
But the document gives a unique inside into the FBI probe into the criminal activities of the ALF which is regarded as a very serious threat to law and order in the US.
In 2004, John E. Lewis, a deputy assistant director at the FBI, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said that ALF, the Earth Liberation Front, and related groups have committed more than 1,100 criminal acts in the United States since 1976, resulting in damages conservatively estimated at approximately $110 million.
At the time, Lewis went on to say that ALF and ELF “have become the most active criminal extremist elements in the United States.”
A year later, he appeared before another committee and said ALF and ELF are among “today’s most serious domestic terrorism threats.” His testimony convinced Congress to support strict federal criminal statutes pertaining to domestic terrorism, so that ALF and ELF would be treated no differently from al Qaeda.