Police recently found pamphlets at a Santa Cruz, Calif., coffeehouse that listed the names and home addresses of scientists who use animals in their experiments. "Animal abusers everywhere, beware. We know where you live," the pamphlets read.
Four days later, last Saturday, the terrorists followed through on their threats. In one incident, a University of California, Santa Cruz biomedical researcher and his family had to escape their home from a second-floor window after a firebomb exploded on their porch.
The same morning, the vehicle of another research scientist was set aflame and destroyed.
It was a sharp escalation in aggression from February, when masked activists pounded at the door of a Santa Cruz breast cancer researcher during her young daughter's birthday party. Harassment and vandalism have also targeted the homes of UCLA and University of California, Berkeley scientists in recent years.
The most recent attacks, however, demonstrate a clear desire to harm scientists (and their loved ones) who rightly put our lives ahead of those of animals. The most militant animal rights activists make no bones about their mission.
"It's regrettable that certain scientists are willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful animal experiments," Dr. Jerry Vlasak of North American Animal Liberation said in a statement.
You'd expect to hear this kind of vitriol on Al-Jazeera. For heaven's sake, at least mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel had the decency to assure builder Del Webb, "We only kill each other."
We should no more glorify these terrorists than we should applaud those who believe it is justified to kill doctors who perform legal abortions.
Unfortunately, these extremists are achieving their goals within the University of California system, scaring many brilliant scientists into abandoning animal-related research that could greatly benefit humanity. They are moving far beyond circus protests, animal releases and demands for the humane treatment of lab animals. They are using terrorist tactics, limiting communications and concealing identities, to avoid capture.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security should use all their resources to bring these terrorists to justice.