In January 1997, the U.S. shuttle joined Russian space station, in February O. J. Simpson was found liable in a wrongful death civil suit, later that year, in August, Timothy J. McVeigh was sentenced to death for Oklahoma City bombing, November 12, 1997, two people were convicted in New York Trade Center bombing, and one week later the FBI began an investigation into PETA for allegations that it had “a long range plan to create a major incident” and that PETA intended to “cause a release of anthrax.” This is according to documents the FBI released to PETA under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2011. http://goo.gl/hpWwSC
In January 1998, the FBI received information and the name of a person allegedly associated with PETA who had infiltrated the Fort Detrick-based U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). USAMRIID is a research facility that conducts animal research as part of its research to develop medical solutions that protect military service members from biological threats. http://www.usamriid.army.mil/
PETA was located in Rockville, Maryland at the time of the FBI report in 1998. A source stated to an anonymous source that PETA had planned to use anthrax to create a major incident in the Baltimore or D.C. area, also stating that PETA planned to move its offices 100 miles out of the area. PETA did move its offices nearly 250 miles from USAMRIID to Norfolk, Virginia, allegedly within months of the report.
The unidentified source stated that the USAMRIID infiltrator planned to orchestrate the anthrax release. Colonel David Franz of USAMRIID could not find a person with the name of the infiltrator. The FBI Baltimore office opened a 90-day preliminary investigation to determine if PETA was capable of or planning anthrax exposure or such a threat. Colonel Franz requested that FBI open a further investigation based on information he received that PETA had acquired dried anthrax and had plans to disperse it. The FBI has not provided any findings concerning this investigation.
The FBI has case files for PETA that date back to 1990 for activities going back to 1988 and PETA’s association with ALF that dates back to a 1985 bomb threat. One case file includes a report of PETA harassing a General Motors employee with threatening letters, while another details harassing and terrorizing phone calls that the complainant describes as “showing no signs of stopping” and that the callers are “relentless in their attack.” http://goo.gl/qUlfQ7
Twenty years after the FBI’s first reported investigations of PETA in September 2010, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released A Review of the FBI’s Investigation of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups. OIG initiated the review in response to congressional questions that raised concerns in whether the FBI had improperly targeted domestic advocacy based solely on upon their exercise of First Amendment rights. The FBI reviewed investigation of five groups that include PETA and one individual that had been mentioned in the congressional inquiries and news articles. The review spanned a six-year period from January 2001 to December 2006. https://oig.justice.gov/special/s1009r.pdf
Of the groups reviewed by the OIG, PETA was the only group the FBI had investigated as what it calls a terrorism enterprise. The FBI investigated PETA and various members of PETA. In the report, the OIG redacted information that the FBI identified “sensitive but unclassified,” including the names of the PETA members the FBI investigated.
The FBI Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit drafted a report in May 2001 that states PETA “disavows any connection to terrorism or criminal activity” but that it does provide “what can be considered at least tacit support for the [Animal Liberation Front (ALF)] and its illegal activity” and that several leading PETA members support ALF.
The report stated that PETA financed or contributed to the criminal defense of some animal rights extremists. PETA contributed more than $45,000 to the Rodney Coronado’s defense for a 1992 arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University that caused $125,000 worth of damage and destroyed 32 years of research data into protecting wild mink. Coronado spent four and half years in prison and then an additional four months when he violated his parole in 2010 by accepting a Facebook friend request from a fellow activist. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/8/jailed_for_facebook_friending_anim…
The OIG report states PETA also contributed to the criminal defense of Roger Troen for a 1986 arson attack at the University of Oregon. Some sources state the arson at the University of Oregon caused $36,000 of damages and that PeTA paid Troen’s $27,000 legal fees and his $34,900 fine. http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Roger-Troen/8533247
FBI investigations revealed a “potential ongoing relationship between PETA and the ALF/ELF activities.” The report cites examples that show PETA’s involvement with ALF/ELF and include “internships” to promote members to prominent positions, selecting targets for ALF/ELF attacks, and providing financial assistance to ALF/ELF. PETA is alleged to have contributed $50,000 to the production of an ALF/ELF documentary that included footage of criminal activity. One source told the FBI that an animal rights group in Utah was required to submit “direct action” proposals to get funding from PETA.
The FBI initiated preliminary or full investigations of certain PETA members and a preliminary terrorism enterprise investigation of PETA as an organization. The first PETA-related investigation was directed at Alex Collins, a pseudonym. Alex Collins is described as a woman who has had several misdemeanor arrests related to animal rights, who travels internationally, and who was alleged to have given money to animal rights groups for “direct actions” that are described as actions designed to cause as much property damage as possible. The description of Alex Collins matches Ingrid Newkirk. The FBI was unable to determine a direct connection between Collins and ALF.
Part of the Collins investigation included her association with a person given the pseudonym, Jerry Robinson. Robinson’s description matches that of Neal Barnard who is president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), another radical animal rights group.
Both Collins and Robinson were placed on the FBI watchlist, Violent Gang and Terrorist Offender File (VGTOF) February 1, 2002, and remained on the list during the courses of the investigations. This resulted in multiple alerts from U.S. Customs to the FBI. For most of the alerts, the FBI requested only itinerary information. One stop of the two led to a secondary inspection and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspector was instructed to copy their personal documents and interview them for information about their overseas travel. The stop lasted 30 minutes.
FBI travel alerts after the pair was removed from the VGTOF did not end because Collins and Robinson remained on at least two other watchlists - the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, according to the report.
The Collins investigation showed connections between various animal rights organizations that conceal PETA’s involvement in other organizations. The Foundation to Support Animal Protection operates out of PETA’s office and has “quietly funneled over $4 million in tax exempt donations to various ‘front’ groups in recent years,” stating that PCRM is the “most notable example.” The foundation also paid the mortgage on PETA’s headquarters. FBI documents state that the major purpose of the foundation is to enable PETA and PCRM to “evade public recognition of their relationship, the real extent of the direct mail expenditures, and the real extent and nature of their assets.”
The FBI alleged that Collins instructed animal rights activists about maximizing economic damage to businesses with raids and arson. The review states that the Animal Enterprise Protection Act prohibits travelling in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise, and in fact intentionally causing such damage. Travelling to provide instruction, as Collins has done, does not violate the Act. The investigation of Collins was closed in April 2007.
The FBI conducted a preliminary 90-day terrorism enterprise investigation of PETA as an organization. It then requested four extensions as new information arose. After a full 15 months of investigating, FBI closed the investigation of PETA, stating that there was not sufficient evidence of PETA’s involvement in any federal criminal violations to warrant converting the case to a full terrorism enterprise investigation.
Several circumstantial facts were discovered during the PETA investigation that suggest terrorism enterprise.
- Collins (Newkirk) trained people how to commit terrorist attacks that include arson and bombings to cause maximum economic damage to business.
- PETA activists were arrested for a protest against a pork purchase program where hay bales were burned on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.
- Two PETA protesters assaulted the CEO of Proctor & Gamble with a tofu pie while another assaulted the Secretary of Agriculture with a pie.
- Several PETA activists were arrested for assaulting a Victoria’s Secret model for modeling fur.
- A PETA employee was detained with a bag containing a pistol, a ski mask, rope, bolt cutters, and a flashlight.
- A vehicle registered to PETA was seen in the driveway of a residence that the violent animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) had just moved into.
- The leader of SHAC said PETA was “a good group and helped out a lot.”
The OIG determined that the FBI did not violate the Attorney General’s guidelines when it opened the investigations, so PETA was not improperly targeted based solely on upon their exercise of First Amendment rights. The investigation did uncover many activities by PETA that show a connection between PETA and domestic terrorism.