Animal Protection > AR Interviews

ALF cell leader's interview with Bradley of "60 Minutes"
(this conversation wasn't aired on TV)

ED BRADLEY: Lets begin by asking, who do you represent? Are you ALF, ELF, or some variation or splinter group?

ALF CELL LEADER: Weíre representative of an autonomous ALF cell, the animal liberation frontÖ I canít sit here and be a voice for every ALF cell. But I can represent at least one cell.

BRADLEY: How many people are in your cell?

ALF CELL LEADER: It varies. I canít go into details.

BRADLEY: Do you know people in other cells?

ALF CELL LEADER: I canít go into that.

BRADLEY: Do the cells communicate with each other?

ALF CELL LEADER: Cells operate autonomously from each other and donít want to know the other people. I donít really want to know the people in other cells, and I donít want people in the other cells to know whoís in my cell.

BRADLEY: So you canít make a direct contact between your cell and another cell?

ALF CELL LEADER: Thereís a one-way method of communication thatís from the cell to the public onlyÖ. Thereís no reason to communicate with any other cell.

BRADLEY: Have you or anyone else in ALF ever given an interview before?

ALF CELL LEADER: The last interview given like this was in the 80ísÖ Thereís never been an interview given like this before.

BRADLEY: So why do it now? Why take the risk of coming here and to talk to us on 60 Minutes.

ALF CELL LEADER: Itís a big risk. Everything we do, we look at the benefits versus the adverse consequences. We donít believe thereís an accurate representation of who [we are] and what we do.

BRADLEY: Who are you and what do you do?

ALF CELL LEADER: The ALF is an underground movement that engages in things ranging from economic sabotageÖ documenting animal abuse.... Part of the reason we do what we do is to show the public what goes on behind closed doors. If people could see what goes on behind those doors, they would be outragedÖ

BRADLEY: What goes on behind closed doors?

ALF CELL LEADER: We live in a society that is founded on exploitation of life, whether itís in a lab or a factory farm. Animals feel the same pain, the same emotions as you or IÖ I canít endure their suffering.

BRADLEY: Under that mask, who are you? If someone was to look at you, would seem to be an otherwise normal law abiding citizen?

ALF CELL LEADER: Weíre all normal people. Weíre just people who said enough is enough. Iím a normal person and I have a normal lifeÖ We just believe that to continue to turn our backs on what happens to animals is to be an accomplice to that exploitation and to be a part of itÖ

BRADLEY: Most people watching would say that most normal people donít burn down research labs.

ALF CELL LEADER: Most normal people would find it unacceptable to see animals have the skin burned off them while theyíre aliveÖto see primates that share the same DNA as humans, cut open while they are still alive day in and day out. I challenge anyone who sees this to go to a farm or a lab to see what happens. I challenge people to look at those videos. If you want to know why we do what we do itís as simple as watching those videos.

BRADLEY: Do your friends and families know anything about what you do?

ALF CELL LEADER: No idea. None whatsoever

BRADLEY: Then, how can you speak for the movement if youíre just one cell in this movement and the cells donít communicate directly with each other?

ALF CELL LEADER: Iím not a spokesperson for the movement. Iím one person in the movement, one person expressing the movement. No one person can speak for the whole movement. I can speak for ALF in broad general terms. The ALF guidelines speak for themselves.

BRADLEY: Have you been involved in "direct actions?"

ALF CELL LEADER: I have. I wonít go into specifics. I would like to go into specifics. But since we are Americaís number one domestic terrorist threat, it isnít worth it. I can speak generally, but I will provide proof of who I say I am.

BRADLEY: Generally, without naming specific events, what have you done?

ALF CELL LEADER: Weíve liberated animals in labs, from fur farms, breedersÖ destroyed property.

BRADLEY: Destruction of property? Arson?

ALF CELL LEADER: I canít be specific.

BRADLEY: How did you destroy property? Arson you wouldnít admit to?

ALF CELL LEADER: I can destroy property by throwing a brick. But telling somebody what I did, like an arson, what would I benefit from a sentence of 80 years behind bars?

BRADLEY: Iím just trying to get at what it is that you do? I meanÖ if you picket in front of somebodyís house thatís one thing. If you burn down a lab thatís another thing.

ALF CELL LEADER: I can say that I support arson generally. We support arson. Extreme times call for extreme measures. We donít choose our methods. If picketing worked, Iíd be first one out there. If writing letters worked then Iíd be writing letters until my hand fell off. But it doesnít workÖ the status quo is exploitation of life.

BRADLEY: Do you consider arson "non-violent?"

ALF CELL LEADER: I donít look at it as being violent or non-violent. Many people think you cannot commit a violent act against a piece of property. The debate goes on and on. The question should be how violent is it to rip the skin off a minkís back, anally electrocuting a fox, thatís violent. To equate destroying property with killing is something I donít understand.

BRADLEY: But why take the risk of going to prison?

ALF CELL LEADER: I think itís a risk worth taking. Iíve been to hell, and Iíve seen what goes on in those labs, and seen what happens to animals. After seeing that I cannot, not act.

BRADLEY: Itís hard for some people to imagine, I mean people can imagine fighting for their freedom or even fighting for someone elseís freedom but a lot of people canít understand fighting for the freedom of animals. I mean forever man has domesticated, killed animals for subsistence.

ALF CELL LEADER: We also know that some of the greatest thinkers of our time have refused to hurt animals. Some have chosen to hurt animals. Some chose to hurt, others, not. I chose not to hurt animals.

BRADLEY: But you could make the argument that raising animals, domesticating animals for your own survival is a natural state of things? Would you accept that argument?

ALF CELL LEADER: I donít accept that the commodification of life is natural. I donít accept that rampant heart disease is natural, the rates of asthma in the cities have gone up and that 13 year old girls are growing breast because of the hormones that are in their food. That is not naturalÖ

BRADLEY: So in some places where people still live in what we would call a primitive society, you see tribesman into the water off their island homes with a spear and stand there looking for a fish and then kill that fish, and thatís food for him and his family. Thatís not natural?

ALF CELL LEADER: I canít speak to what I donít know. At the same time thereís a difference between eating to survive and commodifying life. There is a difference between commodification and surviving to live.

BRADLEY: And when you say commodifying what do you mean by that?

ALF CELL LEADER: I think it becomes a lot easier to exploit when you turn something into a commodityÖ when you objectify something itís easy to exploit. By commodification, we live in a society that discards life for money.

BRADLEY: Do you know Jerry Vlasak. You know who he is? Calls himself a spokesperson for the cause, for your cause. And he says itís time to start killing people who do research on animals?

ALF CELL LEADER: Well, we appreciate that he likes to consider himself a spokesperson, but he doesnít operate with our endorsement or our support or our appreciation, the support of the ALF. We have a strict code of non-violence. Not a single human being in the 20 to 30 year history has ever been harmed in an ALF actionÖ. Thatís not luck, itís a pretty good record.

BRADLEY: I mean there are some cases, for example Daniel Andres San Diego is suspected of carrying out three bombings. One of which he set a bomb to go off an hour after the first bomb. Fortunately for the first responders, they spotted that second bomb and disarmed it. If they hadnít, they would have been hurt. Iíd say that was lucky for them?

ALF CELL LEADER: I donít have much knowledge of specifics of the case.

BRADLEY: Does Dr. Vlasak speak for anyone the movement?

ALF CELL LEADER: I donít know who put Dr. Vlasak in the position heís in. It wasnít us, the ALF.

BRADLEY: He says that every social movement eventually resorts to violence. Would you agree with that?

ALF CELL LEADER: I think looking at history, many social movements have resorted to violence.

BRADLEY: And do you think that yours will resort to violence?

ALF CELL LEADER: As I said before, we donít choose the methods. We donít choose the weapons. We liberate life, destroy property. We have guidelines of non-violence.

BRADLEY: If you destroy my property, thatís violence against me.

ALF CELL LEADER: Our intention is not to coerce, not to terrorize, not to threaten individuals. But I do believe that myself and the warriors Iíve worked with have saved countless livesÖ Iíve saved dogs and puppies that have lived their whole lives in a cage and released them to run around in a field and the dirt for the first time. If thatís violent, then fine. If taking puppies out and letting them roam. And I believe every one of those lives has value. If thatís violent, fine.

BRADLEY: What about Daniel Andreas San Diego, who is suspected of carrying out three bombings in California, and threatening peopleís lives. What do you think of his actions?

ALF CELL LEADER: [No answer.]

BRADLEY: But he [San Diego] set off a nail bomb, and he threatened to car-bomb or shoot the president of a big company that does tests on animalsÖ Isnít that pretty much what Jerry Vlasak is advocating?

ALF CELL LEADER: Iíve never made [a] delineation between a bomb as being violent or a milk jug filled with kerosene as violent. I donít know what to sayÖ. We have put the lives of a security guard above the lives of hundreds of animals. Itís a judgment call, an ethical dilemma. We donít claim to have all the answers.

BRADLEY: You do see, from your perspective that the life of one man is worth more than the life of dozens of animals?

ALF CELL LEADER: I canít say that I cannot say one mans life has more value than hundreds of animalsÖ because operating under ALF guidelines we never harmed life. A 30 year history of never harming a human being.

BRADLEY: Is there a place where you draw the line. I mean, is there a line between non-violence and violence?

ALF CELL LEADER: We donít throw bricks at people. We donít set people on fire, buildings when there are people inside. We donít assault people when we carry out actions.

BRADLEY: You say that violence against a building, destroying a building is not violence. So what Iím wondering is how do you get from non-violence to violence?

ALF CELL LEADER: If a human being is injured, it cannot be an ALF or ELF action. By virtue of the guidelines, itís not an ALF action.

BRADLEY: So you came here to say to us tonight that the ALF, the ELF are non-violent and will not escalate beyond arson. Is that right?

ALF CELL LEADER: I think it interesting that in todayís political climate, that we are Americaís top domestic terrorist threat; but, we havenít killed anyone. But the neo-Nazis have maimed and have murdered and theyíre not considered a terrorist threat. I think itís abysmal. Animal activists can face more time than a man who rapes a woman, I think itís because it challenges the status quo.

BRADLEY: Is there anything else that youíd like to add?

ALF CELL LEADER: I think our general sentiments or objective are similar, to stop the destruction of lifeÖ. Itís amazing to me weíre having a conversation about violence in relation to the ALF and ELF when we have Monsanto and Dow Chemical, Exxon and companies who are hurting and murdering people with their by-productsÖ I donít have hope. The fact were having a conversation about my tactics being extreme or violent while corporations are making a killing, literally and figuratively, and while their stocks are going through the roof, is amazing to me. To focus on us, that we are America top domestic terrorist threat, is amazing to me.