THE HOME OF DR. ARTHUR ROSENBAUM isn't hard to find. He lives a few
blocks south of Sunset Boulevard, near the UCLA campus, in a white
two-story house with a front yard jammed with aspen trees. There is a
short driveway on the side of the home, and during the evening, a
bright, white light illuminates the carport. If someone wants to
sabotage the doctor's car under the cover of night, a flashlight isn't
On Sunday, June 24, just that kind of person struck. Rosenbaum, a
highly regarded pediatric ophthalmologist who had been regularly
harassed by animal-rights activists for his research work with cats
and rhesus monkeys at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, noticed a
device underneath his luxury sedan. The bomb squad was dispatched to
the scene and hauled away a makeshift -- but deadly -- explosive. A
faulty fuse was the only reason it didn't go off.
Three days later, the so-called Animal Liberation Brigade sent a
typo-riddled "communiqué" to the North American Animal Liberation
Press Office in Los Angeles. It was posted on the NAALPO Web site:
Rosenbaum wouldn't comment. In an e-mail, he wrote, "I have been asked
by law enforcement to not discuss any events surrounding the incident
at this time. I look forward to doing so in the future." According to
a Bel-Air Patrol guard, though, the doctor's neighbors are "jumpy."
According to the Anti-Defamation League, which closely watches
extremist groups of all kinds throughout the world, Los Angeles has
become the capital of a more aggressive brand of animal-rights
extremism in the United States -- with UCLA as ground zero. "Los
Angeles, for now, is the epicenter of this movement," says Oren Segal,
co-director of ADL's Center on Extremism in New York City. "We've seen
a lot of humans targeted overseas, and now it's happening here."
The prominent mouthpiece for this new extremism, according to Segal,
just happens to live in Los Angeles. His name is Jerry Vlasak, a
49-year-old trauma surgeon and resident of Agoura Hills in the West
ON AN 85-DEGREE DAY, Vlasak wears all black -- black long-sleeve dress
shirt, black jeans, black Crocs and black socks. He pulls into Astro
Family Restaurant in Silver Lake in a black 318i BMW. Vlasak, a tall
and lanky man with short salt-and-pepper hair and a faded goatee,
settles into a booth and begins speaking excitedly, and somewhat
loudly, about his obsession.
"I think the animal-rights movement has been way too slow in taking
radical actions," he says. "And they've been way too nice."