“Animal Rights Extremism” Targeted in Trump Administration Counterterrorism Strategy

by John M. Simpson

Somewhat lost in the din of current news reporting on the Supreme Court appointment controversy,  was the release of the Trump administration’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism of the United States (Strategy) on October 4.  That document makes specific reference to “animal rights extremism” as a “persistent” domestic security threat.  After discussing the various terrorist threats confronting the United States from abroad, the document includes the following passage:

“Lastly, the United States has long faced a persistent security threat from domestic terrorists who are not motivated by a radical Islamist ideology but are instead motivated by other forms of violent extremism, such as racially motivated extremism, animal rights extremism, environmental extremism, sovereign citizen extremism, and militia extremism.  Such extremist groups attempt to advance their agendas through acts of force or violence.  Notably, domestic terrorism in the United States is on the rise, with an increasing number of fatalities and violent nonlethal acts committed by domestic terrorists against people and property in the United States.  The economic harm caused by domestic terrorists has also increased sharply as domestic terrorists have continued to destroy property, disrupt business, and perpetrate financial crimes that are designed to damage certain sectors of the United States economy.”

Strategy, p. 10 (emphasis added).  The Strategy goes on to outline several broad initiatives to combat foreign and domestic terrorist threats.

Lest one conclude that the inclusion of “animal rights extremism” in the Strategy is overly broad, consider instances recently reported here and here of animal rights activists  invading grocery stores and disrupting operations and damaging merchandise; “rescuing” chickens from poultry growing operations; and, in one event, staging a “branding” in which “a searing hot iron heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit was plunged into the activists’ arms and shoulders as they grimaced in pain.”