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Animal Rights Militia (ARM) logo.
Animal rights
Olive baboon1.jpg

Notable activists
Greg Avery · David Barbarash
Mel Broughton · Rod Coronado
Barry Horne · Ronnie Lee
Keith Mann · Ingrid Newkirk
Heather Nicholson · Jill Phipps
Henry Spira · Andrew Tyler
Jerry Vlasak · Paul Watson · Robin Webb

Notable writers
Carol Adams · Jeremy Bentham
Steven Best · Stephen Clark
Gary Francione · Gill Langley
Mary Midgley · Tom Regan
Bernard Rollin · Richard Ryder
Henry Salt · Peter Singer ·
Steven Wise · Roger Yates

Notable groups/campaigns
List of animal rights groups
Animal Aid · ALDF · ALF · BUAV
GAP · Hunt Saboteurs · PETA · PCRM
Sea Shepherd · SPEAK · SHAC

Animal liberation movement
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Animal law · Animal testing
Bile bear · Blood sport
Covance · Draize test
Factory farming · Fur trade
Great Ape research ban · HLS
Lab animal sources · LD50
Meat · Nafovanny · Open rescue
Operation Backfire · Primate trade
Seal hunting · Speciesism

Britches · Brown Dog affair
Cambridge · Pit of despair
Silver Spring monkeys
Unnecessary Fuss

Animal rights films
Behind the Mask · Earthlings
The Animals Film
Peaceable Kingdom · Unnecessary Fuss

Books and magazines
Animal rights books
Animal rights magazines
Animal Liberation
Arkangel · Bite Back
No Compromise

Related categories
ALF · Animal testing
Animal law · Animal rights
AR movement
Livestock · Meat

Related templates
Agriculture · Animal testing

The Animal Rights Militia (ARM) is a banner used by animal rights activists who engage in direct action against people or entities that they consider to profit from animal suffering. ARM are known to have a more harsh approach. Unlike other direct action organizations in the field, they don't have any guideline warning against the physical harm to human beings.[1]

ARM activists believe "the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) does not go far enough...",[1] regarding the ALF's guidelines of strictly non-violent resistance.[2] In contrast, the ARM does not have guidelines, instead carrying out political violence and/or property destruction in an attempt to further the animal liberation movement. This includes letter bombs, contaminations, death threats, hoaxes and destroying cars and shops using arson; targeting animal testing, bloodsports, other animal industries, political representatives, hunters, animal researchers and other individuals.

The ARM is not a group, but an example of a leaderless resistance, as a banner for autonomous, covert cells to use. The name has most often been used in the UK, Isle of Wight, and USA, with cells active in over a dozen countries.[3][4] The name was first known when signed letter bombs were sent to 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament in London, England, harming Margaret Thatcher's colleague in 1982.[5]



No guidelines

Unlike other militant animal rights activists that advocate violence, using names such as the Justice Department or Revolutionary Cells--Animal Liberation Brigade, the ARM did not appear to release a manifesto or set of guidelines upon forming. Therefore the concept of the group is merely an ideology; that the use of violence is acceptable in the cause for animal rights, along with other tatics.

Robin Webb has explained the difference between the ARM and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), as well as those naming themselves the Justice Department. He has said:[6]

If someone wishes to act as the Animal Rights Militia or the Justice Department, simply put, the third policy of the ALF, to take all reasonable precautions not to endanger life, no longer applies.


The ARM formed the same leaderless-resistance model as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) 6 years later in 1982, which consists of small, autonomous, covert cells acting independently in; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Holland, Isle of Wight, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.[3][4] A cell may consist of just one person.

Professor Paul Wilkinson, former director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, has said that: "A cluster of small groups such as the Justice Department, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and the Animal Rights Militia, have crossed the threshold from extra-parliamentary protest and demonstrations to what can only be described as acts of terrorism."[7]

The existence of activists calling themselves the Animal Rights Militia or Justice Department, another name used by activists to inflict violence, reflects a struggle within the Animal Liberation Front and the animal rights movement in general, between those who believe violence is justified, and those who insist the movement should reject it in favor of non-violent resistance.[8]

Extensional self-defense

Steven Best has coined the term "extensional self-defense" to describe actions carried out in defense of animals by human beings acting as "proxy agents."[9] He argues that, in carrying out acts of extensional self-defense, activists have the moral right to engage in acts of sabotage or even violence.[9] Extensional self-defense is justified, he writes, because animals are "so vulnerable and oppressed they cannot fight back to attack or kill their oppressors."[10] Best argues that the principle of extensional self defense mirrors the penal code statues known as the "necessity defense," which can be invoked when a defendant believes that the illegal act was necessary to avoid imminent and great harm.[10] In testimony to the Senate in 2005, Jerry Vlasak stated that he regarded violence against Huntingdon Life Sciences as an example of extensional self-defense.[11]

Direct action

The Animal Rights Militia first emerged in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1980s as the animal liberation movement shifted their focus away from demonstrations and more on illegal direct action. Utilizing tactics such as property destruction, intimidation, and including the use of violence, the ARM have sent letter bombs, placed incendiary devices under cars and in buildings, contaminated food products and most recently, sent death threats and desecrated a grave.

The name was not heard of for 8 years after the actions from 1982-1986 in England, with animal liberation supporter Peter Singer remarking in his 1986 essay "The Animal Liberation Movement: Its philosophy, its achievements and its future" that the ARM may not really exist.[12] This was then seen as an inaccurate statement as the ARM claimed an arson a year later in California, with a series of arsons, hoax bombs and threats reappearing in the 1990s, notably in the Isle of Wight, Cambridge, North Yorkshire and Oxford. The damage caused by fires averaged £2 million in each location.[13]

The ARM continue to report actions in the 21st century, predominantly in European countries, as well as North America and Australia. Similar to the ALF, the ARM now send anonymous communiques to Bite Back Magazine, a website promoting the animal liberation struggle and its prisoners.[3]



The first action became known on November 30 when five letter bombs were sent to Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister,[12] the Home Office minister responsible for animal legislation, as well as the leaders of Britain's three main opposition parties, signed by the Animal Rights Militia.[14][15] The office manager to Thatcher suffered superficial burns on his hands and face when opening the package that burst into flames.[5][16] It was later reported that the 8-by-4 inch package filled with gunpowder that exploded evaded Post Office scanners, causing a tightening in mail security at 10 Downing Street. Scotland Yard led the investigation stating, "We are now connecting all five letter-bombs with the same organisation".[14]


In February, four months after the attack against politicians, five more letter bombs were sent to different addresses in London, England, claimed again by the ARM.[17] In an action apparently to protest the annual seal slaughter in Newfoundland, Canada, the explosives were delivered to the Canadian High Commission, the then Agriculture minister, a surgeon and a furrier. This time however, as the padded envelops were defused, there were no injuries.[5]


In September, incendiary devices were placed under the cars of two animal researchers for BIBRA (British Industrial Biological Research Association) in South London, which completely wrecked both vehicles. Neither man was injured, with the ARM telling The Sutton Herald[15] that "We will go to any length to prevent these animal abusers' murderous activities, if it means killing an individual, we will not shy away from action."

ARM then claimed the contamination of Mars products, claiming it was because of their animal experiments relating to tooth decay which ARM claimed the company had no intention of ending.[18] ARM then claimed the contamination was a hoax and they had not carried out the action. But claimed that it had caused huge financial damage which was the intention.[18][19]


Three months later in January, ARM claimed responsibility for placing incendiary devices under cars of four individuals involved in animal research at Huntingdon Life Sciences. The explosives were placed in Harrogate, South London, Staffordshire and Sussex, timed to explode an hour apart from each other. This time, also the last time according to the cell, the bomb disposal team were alerted, who deactivated the devices that were confirmed to be live. The next attack the ARM claimed was intended to kill Dr Andor Sebesteny, an animal researcher for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF). However he noticed the device that was attached under his car which saved his life, since no warning had been given.[15] ARM also claimed responsibility for sending more letter bombs to individuals involved in vivisection.[20]


On the 1st September, at San Jose Valley Veal & Beef, Santa Clara, California, the ARM claims responsibility for an arson which costs $10,000 in damage.[21]



On January 4, 1992, the Edmonton Journal reported of an ARM action claimed by a letter and sent to the journal, as well as the Canadian Press news agency. The cell said they injected 87 of the month-old food bar, the Canadian Cold Buster, with liquid oven cleaner, resulting in the product being pulled from shelves in Alberta, Canada. The ARM claimed in the letter, along with two bars,[22] the contamination was due to the slaughter of thousands of rats, injected with various drugs, frozen and starved, "...because of the decade-and-a-half-long history of animal suffering that is this candy's history." The police at the time advised against consuming the food bar, unsure whether the action was genuine.[4][23] The candy bars sent to the media were later confirmed to have been injected with saline solution (harmless sterilised table salt), proving to be a hoax.[22]


On the 6th July, it was reported widely that the Cambridge store of Boots and also the Edinburgh Woolen Mill in the centre of the city had caught on fire. The Boots branch burnt for four hours completely destroying the building and the wool clothing store was badly damaged with the entire stock ruined. Two more devices were then found, both leather shops, one of which was in the pocket of a sheepskin coat. The ARM claimed all four devices, causing Cambridge city centre to be cordoned off whilst officers searched for two more devices that the cell claimed would explode the following day at 12pm. After an extensive search, it was concluded that the additional two devices claimed were a hoax, with no further devices exploding the following day. A month later, another leather shop was destroyed and the same wool mill suffered minor damage after devices went off, with two more recovered in leather shops and one in a fur shop.[24]

ARM then set fire to shops on the Isle of Wight two week later, causing £3 million worth of damage.[20] Initially an incendiary device had been found in a fishing tackle shop as a customer tried on a jacket, accidentally discovering the cigarette packet explosive. The police were called and seized the jacket for forensic tests, alerting all other fishing tackle shops in the island.[24] However four further devices had been planted in Ryde and Newport, with the next one found in Halfords, a subsidiary of Boots, that was detonated in a controlled explosion. The three remaining devices then ignited in the early hours of the morning, setting ablaze two leather shops and an Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) shop, as a hundred firefighters attended to the fires.[13]

Throughout the rest of the year extensive damage continued to occur elsewhere, most notably in the other end of the country in North Yorkshire by the ARM. Boots in Harrogate and Fads, another Boots subsidiary, were set on fire, followed by another ICRF shop and a bloodsports shop. In York, a newly refurbished Boots and Fads were again targeted by arsonists, causing a less but still severe damage to the properties.[13]

On Christmas Day, the ARM then claimed in writing to two of Vancouver's biggest chains, Save-On Foods and Canada Safeway, that they had injected rat poison into dead turkeys in supermarkets.[25] Evidence of contamination was however not found, similar to two years ago in Canada which was presumed a hoax.[22]


ARM further came to widespread public attention in the UK in December, during one of Horne's hunger strikes, which lasted 68 days. It was carried out in protest at the British governments refusal to order a commission of inquiry into animal testing, and ARM threatened to assassinate a number of individuals involved in vivisection should Horne die.[26]

Those threatened were Colin Blakemore,[26] later chief executive of the Medical Research Council; Clive Page of King's College London, a professor of pulmonary pharmacology and chair of the animal science group of the British Biosciences Federation; Mark Matfield of the Research Defence Society;[26] and Christopher Brown, the owner of Hillgrove Farm in Oxfordshire, who was breeding kittens for laboratories.[27]



ARM claimed responsibility for removing, in October, from a grave the body of Gladys Hammond, the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, part-owner of Darley Oaks Farm, which bred guinea pigs for Huntingdon Life Sciences, and which had been the target of the animal rights campaign Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs.[28] The body was removed from a churchyard in Yoxall, Staffordshire and found buried in woodland on 2 May 2006.[29]


Following the announced in August that the Hall family at Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, were no longer breeding guinea pigs for medical research, the ARM sent letters to the homes of 17 company directors associated with HLS. Most of the companies targeted were building contractors based in Peterborough, Huntingdon and Harrogate. In the letter the cell demanded:[30]

The company you work for is working with Huntingdon Life Sciences. This is a disgusting and cowardly act. You have a choice. You can walk away from those sick monsters or you can personally face the consequences of your decision. Not only you but your family is a target. Sever your links with HLS within two weeks or get ready for your life and the lives of those you love to become a living hell.

Two weeks after the letters were sent in late September, nine companies, more than half, severed their ties with HLS to comply with the demands. Director of Most Construction in Harrogate, Ian Bailes, commented in response to the threat "Vocal protests are fine ... That is not a problem. It is the militant ones that are a problem. The police need to wipe them out."[30][31]


Four people were convicted on 11 May for their involvement in the incident, which was described in The Guardian newspaper as "a six-year hate campaign" that included letter bombs, vandalism, and grave robbing. The judge described the group's actions as "subjecting wholly innocent citizens to a campaign of terror." The campaign included hate mail signed Animal Rights Militia (ARM) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Those convicted were Jon Ablewhite, John Smith and Kerry Whitburn each of whom who were given twelve year sentences and Josephine Mayo who was sentenced to four years.[32]

On 14 December, the ARM claimed on the North American Animal Liberation Press Office they had poisoned 487 bottles of POM juice drinks:[33]

in a well coordinated action, 487 bottles of pom wonderful juices were tampered with along the Eastern seaboard in stores like wild oats, d'agostino's and food emporiums. those who drink the contaminated juice won't die like the animals in pom labs, but the diarrhea, vomiting and headaches will hopefully send a strong message that people will no longer allow innocent defenseless animals to be tormented and killed for a health juice and to line the pockets of profiteers who don't have feelings for those weaker than they are.

at pom one week old baby mice are deprived of oxygen and then their brains cut open and rabbits have their arteries severed so they get erectile dysfunction so that pom wonderful can make money off the pain and suffering inflicted on animals inside the pom wonderful labs.

Spokesperson for POM replied: "If it is a hoax, it is a form of blackmail. If actual contamination has taken place, with the intention of injuring innocent people, it is an act of terrorism. Either way, the Animal Rights Militia is trying to scare and intimidate innocent people. That is criminal behaviour." It also said that the company conducted a vast amount of research involving human studies and that only a small amount of tests were animal based, which does not include; dogs, cats or primates.[34] The owners the following month then stated: ""POM Wonderful pomegranate juice has ceased all animal testing, and we have no plans to do so in the future.", this was following Whole Foods Market, the biggest grocery chain in natural stores, threatening to stop selling their products, initiated by the PETA campaign.[35]


On 30 August, ARM claimed to have deliberately contaminated 250 tubes of Novartis's widely-used antiseptic Savlon in shops including Superdrug, Tesco and Boots The Chemist who all withdrew sales of the cream.[36] The cell claimed in a communique to Bite Back:[37]

We don't want to kill living beings like Novartis but the side effects and the inevitable hospital stay will give people an idea of what Novartis pays for inside Huntingdon Life Sciences. The message is clear and uncompromising Vasella, you must stop killing animals inside Huntingdon Life Sciences or this will only be the beginning of our campaign.



Paul Scare was sentenced to one year in prison for sending razor blades to the people who he had targeted.[24]


Barry Horne was subsequently jailed for eighteen years for the arson attacks. The prosecution successfully argued that the devices used in Bristol and the Isle of Wight were so similar that Horne should be regarded as responsible for both, despite only pleading guilty to an attempted arson in Bristol.[38] Robin Webb, who runs the Animal Liberation Press Office in the UK, narrowly avoided being charged with conspiracy.[20]


Niel Hanson was sentenced to three years for sending the hoax device to GlaxoSmithKline public relations officer in Hertfordshire. He was initially charged with conspiracy to murder, which was then revised to a lesser crime and he was resentenced to serve three years, for the device that was a bag of cat litter sent via taxi.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b Animal Rights Militia Fact Sheet, Animal Liberation Front website,
  2. ^ Structure and aims, Animal Liberation Front.
  3. ^ a b c Actions reported to Bite Back: Main source:
  4. ^ a b c Food bar pulled from shelves, Edmonton Journal, January 4th 1992.
  5. ^ a b c Letter-bombs warned, Kingman Daily Miner, February 16th 1983.
  6. ^ "Staying on Target and Going the Distance: An Interview with U.K. A.L.F. Press Officer Robin Webb". No Compromise (22). Retrieved 2006-05-23.  
  7. ^ . Hansard. Her Majesty's Government. 1992-12-14. pp. Column 223. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  8. ^ Lee, Ronnie. Controversial Actions, No Compromise (magazine), issue #23.
  9. ^ a b Best, Steven. "Gaps in Logic, Lapses in Politics: Rights and Abolitionism in Joan Dunayer's Speciesism",
  10. ^ a b Best, Steven. "Who's Afraid of Jerry Vlasak?", Animal Liberation Press Office.
  11. ^ Miller, John J. "In the name of the animals: America faces a new kind of terrorism", National Review, July 3, 2006.
  12. ^ a b Singer, Peter. "The Animal Liberation Movement: Its philosophy, its achievements and its future". Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  13. ^ a b c Mann, Keith. From Dusk 'til Dawn: An insider's view of the growth of the Animal Liberation Movement. Puppy Pincher Press, 2007, p. 499.
  14. ^ a b Britain plans to tighten mail security, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 2nd 1982.
  15. ^ a b c Mann, Keith. From Dusk 'til Dawn: An insider's view of the growth of the Animal Liberation Movement. Puppy Pincher Press, 2007, p. 497.
  16. ^ Bare Facts, Time U.S., December 13th 1983.
  17. ^ Bombs linked to seal hunt protest, Miami Herald, February 16th 1832
  18. ^ a b ARM Militia, Animal Liberation Website.
  19. ^ Animal rights group 'has contaminated Savlon', The Guardian, 30 August 2007.
  20. ^ a b c Best, Steven; Nocella, A John (2004-09-09). Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. Lantern Books. ISBN 159056054X.  
  21. ^ Eco-Violence: The Record, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fall 2002.
  22. ^ a b c Bio-chem threat, CBS, February 18th 2004.
  23. ^ 'Cold Buster' Chocolate Bars Pulled After Tainting Threat, The Palm Beach Post, January 4th 1992.
  24. ^ a b c d Mann, Keith. From Dusk 'til Dawn: An insider's view of the growth of the Animal Liberation Movement. Puppy Pincher Press, 2007, p. 498.
  25. ^ Turkeys out of stores after poison threat,, December 25th 1994.
  26. ^ a b c "Death-threat vivisector calls for industry support", BBC News, 8 December 1998.
  27. ^ Pallister, David. Embattled breeding farm closes, The Guardian, 14 August 1999.
  28. ^ Britten, Nick (2005-08-24). "Years of hate that wore down family's resolve". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  29. ^ "Hammond police discover remains". BBC News. 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  30. ^ a b Animal rights extremists force firms to cut all links with lab, The Independent, October 2nd 2005.
  31. ^ Animal Rights Militia Threatens HLS Associates, Bite Back, September 24th 2005.
  32. ^ Morris, Steven; Ward, David; Butt, Riazat (2006-05-12). "Jail for animal rights extremists who stole body of elderly woman from her grave". The Guardian.,,1773153,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  33. ^ Communiqué from the Animal Rights Militia, Animal Liberation Press Office, December 14, 2006.
  34. ^ POM hoax not so wonderful, Functional Ingredients, January 2007.
  35. ^ Protesters force juice maker to end testing on animals, HighBean Encyclopedia, originally by Los Angeles Business Journal, January 22, 2007.
  36. ^ "Animal rights scare sparks recall". BBC News. 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  37. ^ Animal Rights Militia Claim Tampering of Novartis Products, Bite Back, 28 August 2007.
  38. ^ Mann, Keith. From Dusk 'til Dawn: An insider's view of the growth of the Animal Liberation Movement. Puppy Pincher Press, 2007, p. 542.

External links

ARM Communiqués

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