Animal Protection > Activist Index > Security, Protection, and Self Defense

The Shadow Activist Takes Questions on Security
from No Compromise Issue 29

QUESTION: How do those within the underground stay safe, secure and active, especially now that the U.S. government considers A.L.F./ E.L.F.- related activity the "number one domestic terrorist threat"?

ANSWER: Essentially, they stay safe and secure the same way as always. With good security come good actions.

Typically, a cell must balance two priorities: security and its objectives. Without strong security, members of a cell are vulnerable to law enforcement, thus compromising the objective of animal/ Earth liberation. It's a fine balance where one part of the equation cannot overshadow the other, or a cell will inevitably fail. If a cell becomes myopic and lax with security, it will be destroyed from the outside. If a cell is overly cautious or paranoid to the point of inaction, it will fail from the inside.

There is no better time than now to do some "spring cleaning" and reassess one's limitations and priorities. The one thing worse than an absence of action is careless and foolhardy action that hands another victory to our opposition and reinforces the need for "a war on eco-terrorism."

Clean out that closet, toss out those old tools, and scrap those old notes left lying around the house. And activists must take the time to seriously ask themselves if the stakes have become too high. We hope the answer is a resounding "NO," but we must be honest with ourselves or others will suffer.

There are no guarantees in life, but the following tips have withstood the tests of time again and again. Trust us when we say that, typically, a secure and successful cell will:

1. choose friends wisely... understanding that in the past, it has been these "friends" (lovers, roommates, etc.) who have put activists arrested on A.L.F./ E.L.F. charges behind bars;

2. refuse to work with couples who are romantically involved. Smart activists know that even though it may seem great at the time, it's an almost sure recipe for disaster;

3. never work with drug users or people who drink too much. Aside from unnecessarily risking arrest, such people are often unstable and typically prove a security risk;

4. never combine or mix cells. There's good reason cells are anonymous, independent and autonomous;

5. trust no one completely, realizing that everyone has a breaking point, especially under the threat of long prison time;

6. ensure that their members don't get in over their heads. If the line is drawn at arson, successful cell members respect that. They know their limits and how much jail time each member is willing to do. In fact, from the outset, they RESIGN themselves to spending a lot of time in jail;

7. never talk--even among fellow cell members--about past actions... especially arsons. They know that what's done is done, and nothing good can come out of ego-stroking conversation (SEE TIP #5!!!);

8. refrain from the lengthy, wordy and militant communiqués;

9. operate on a "need-to-know" basis, with each cell member understanding that not every member needs to know about every detail of every action (ie: sources of funds, homes, safehouses, etc.);

10. never leave loose ends. Successful cells will expect that all possible leads will be followed up by law enforcement-the Feds now have the budget and resources to do so, thanks to the hysteria following Sept 11, 2001;

11. always remember: "Loose Lips Sink Ships."

Ultimately, a corrupt system of law enforcement can never stop our movement. Yet how we respond to their repression determines the extent to which they are able to hinder our struggle. Our "domestic terrorist" status only proves how serious the stakes really are. For active cells (and even dormant ones), it's lengthy jail time. For the animals and Earth, it's a death sentence.

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