Tuesday, August 29, 2006

UCLA To Increase Security After Threats To Primate Researchers

UCLA will increase security for animal researchers because of a harassment campaign that included the attempted firebombing of a professor's home, the acting chancellor said.

"These activities have risen to the level of domestic terrorism, and that's what we should call them," Norman Abrams told the Los Angeles Times in Saturday's editions.

The school will increase security and try to reduce the time it takes police to respond to threats at the homes of researchers, Abrams said. It also will warn researchers of possible threats.

The university will double, to $60,000, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who tried to firebomb a Bel-Air home on June 30.

A Molotov cocktail was mistakenly placed outside the home of a neighbor of researcher Lynn Fairbanks. It failed to ignite.

The Animal Liberation Front took credit for the attack in a posting on the Web site of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.

The posting said Fairbanks had conducted "painful addiction experiments" on monkeys.

"I don't do invasive research; I don't kill or torture animals," Fairbanks told the Times.

Earlier this month, UCLA neurobiology professor Dario Ringach announced he was stopping his primate research after years of harassment and threats to his family.

A spokeswoman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office took issue with Abrams' remarks.

"That's just sad commentary, when people killing animals are calling other people terrorists," said Camille Hankins, adding that her group has no direct link to the ALF.

Extremists in the animal rights and environmental movements have become increasingly aggressive over the past decade, the FBI said.

"We have seen an escalation in their rhetoric and the violence associated with their crimes," bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Abrams said UCLA remained committed to biomedical research involving animals. About 750 people are conducting about 950 animal research projects, a university spokesman said.

Story here.

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