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FBI fears trouble from 'extremist animal rights group'

Group gets permit, plans 'stunts'

From Terry Frieden

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI alerted local law enforcement agencies Wednesday of potential violence over the Thanksgiving weekend from what it termed an "extremist animal rights group," said to be planning events in New York and New Jersey.

However, members of the group promised "peaceful and lawful" demonstrations.

start quoteWe are not an extremist organization, the lab that punches puppies in the face and cuts open animals while still alive, they are the terrorists.end quote
-- A SHAC member

Counterterrorism officials who provide weekly FBI intelligence bulletins usually advise police agencies of potential threats to various industries, institutions or facilities, but this week focused on a different type of threat.

"The extremist animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) is planning a national demonstration against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), an animal research laboratory from November 30 to December 2, in East Millstone, New Jersey," the intelligence bulletin says.

"Criminal activity is expected to occur in conjunction with this demonstration based on law enforcement investigation, incidents during previous SHAC events, and rhetoric emanating from the group."

The FBI said animal rights activists from throughout the United States and overseas may travel to participate in the demonstrations, scheduled to coincide with HLS' 50th anniversary.

When asked about the FBI warning, a SHAC member said, "We are not an extremist organization, the lab that punches puppies in the face and cuts open animals while still alive, they are the terrorists."

A federal judge Wednesday granted SHAC a permit to hold a demonstration Sunday at Colonial Park, across the street from HLS headquarters.

SHAC members said they are planning to stage "publicity oriented stunts." Organizers refused to describe the stunts but claimed they will be lawful .The group is expecting 400 to 500 demonstrators. Local police said they are preparing for 1,000 or more.

Immediately after the Colonial Park event, protesters will go to 16 locations across New Jersey to demonstrate at the homes of lab executives. SHAC USA President Kenin Jonas said the group has permits for each location.

The FBI said the organization also is planning to conduct what it calls "the Big Action in the Big Apple" in which, according to the FBI, "extremists will converge on HLS, Marsh USA (an insurance and risk management firm) and other undetermined targets."

A SHAC organizer said the group is planning to meet Monday at an undisclosed New York City location and "fan out across the city to various targets for surprise demonstrations" that will be peaceful and lawful.

Among speakers invited by SHAC are former Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale and Rodney Coronado, whom the FBI calls a "convicted Animal Liberation Front terrorist."

The FBI asked police agencies to be alert to any suspicious activities including "the surveillance of facilities and reports of probing telephone inquiries which may indicate planning that is characteristic of animal rights and environmental terrorists."

-- CNN Producers Terry Frieden and Jamie McShane contributed to this report.

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