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Animal Rights Group Suspected in String of Vandalism Cases

Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles police are investigating whether three recent vandalism cases are part of a nationwide string of destructive attacks linked to an animal rights group that is high on the U.S. Justice Department’s list of domestic terror organizations.

The Animal Liberation Front, a militant and secretive international group, is suspected of vandalizing two fast food outlets and a Hollywood Hills home.

Vandals shattered plate-glass windows and painted slogans on walls early Saturday at a McDonald’s in the Harbor Gateway district just east of Torrance, LAPD spokesman Ed Funes said.

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Days earlier, a McDonald’s in the Crenshaw area was defaced with spray paint.

In both cases, vandals had scrawled the letters “ALF.”

Police believe the same group earlier this month targeted the Hollywood Hills home of an executive with a company that uses animals in drug testing.

The executive was not identified, but authorities said someone threw a smoke bomb into the garage, broke windows and spray-painted “ALF” on the house.

The Harbor Gateway McDonald’s was spray-painted with “Don’t feed your kids McKillers,” “Stop McKiller” and “We won’t sleep until the slaughter ends,” Funes said.

“It’s very probable that it is associated with [domestic] terrorism, but we don’t yet know,” Funes said. “Just because they spray ‘ALF’ doesn’t mean they are involved.”

LAPD investigators suspect that the crimes are part of a growing list of attacks, some involving bombs and arson, that authorities believe the animal rights group has carried out since 1996 against fast food outlets in Chico, Calif., and in Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah and Virginia.

The Animal Liberation Front’s stated purpose on its website is to carry out acts “causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.” The site says members are told to remain anonymous. None could be reached Wednesday.

“Any chain that sells meat is a target,” said David Martosko, research director of the Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C., which has studied the group for years.

McDonald’s is one of the world’s largest buyers of beef. A spokesman at the firm’s Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters did not return a call seeking comment.

In congressional testimony, FBI officials have identified the Animal Liberation Front and a similar organization, the Earth Liberation Front, as among the most dangerous domestic terrorism groups in the U.S., largely because of fears that their actions could one day take lives.

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.


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