This week a British court is hearing astonishing testimony about an international conspiracy aimed at shutting down an animal research lab. The perps: five people who sent hoax bombs and sanitary towels allegedly laced with HIV, made threatening phone calls, vandalized property, and mounted a public smear campaign accusing people of pedophilia, and worse.

All in the name of puppies, of course.

We’re referring to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an organization that the FBI calls a "domestic terrorist threat" and springs from the ultra-violent Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a criminal organization that the feds have long labeled a “domestic terrorist group.”

SHAC is singularly dedicated to destroying a medical research company called Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) which uses laboratory animals in its search for a cure for breast cancer, AIDS, and Parkinson’s Disease. SHAC’s list of lurid campaigns runs endless, but just to give you a sense of how classy these guys are, here’s a recent example from a Financial Times report covering the current trial:
 "What you are doing is the equivalent of supporting rapists, paedophiles, racists and those who experimented upon Jews, gypsies, gays and the mentally ill in Nazi Germany," reads an excerpt of one letter put before the court. "Because you’re giving your support to HLS you will be classed as one of them. The campaign against you will be relentless."
But why is this fringe terrorist group so dangerous? Precisely because it tries not to be fringe. In other words, we wish we could say that SHAC is giving animal rights organizations a bad name, but the reality is that SHAC has friends in the mainstream. Its goals are the same as those of the seemingly benign bunny huggers we all love to pity. In some cases, they’re one and the same.

As we’ve noted before, SHAC would never have existed without People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Several SHAC leaders, including Joshua Harper, Andy Stepanian, Kevin Kjonaas, and Pamelyn Ferdin (the first three of whom are convicted terrorists), have strong connections to PETA and its pseudo-medical front group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Whether it’s PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk saying “I wish we all would get up and go into the labs and take the animals out or burn them down”; PCRM spokesman Jerry Vlasak publicly advocating the murder of doctors who use animals in their research; or SHAC’s Kjonaas promising that “when we shut down HLS, we’ll move on to the next, the next, and the next”; the pattern is clear enough. Some people see no bounds in expressing their contempt for humanity.

SHAC’s members blow up cars, make death threats, beat people with baseball bats, and otherwise terrorize their "targets." The British court may not come to a decision quickly, but for most of us, the verdict is already clear. And it extends to SHAC’s entire (anti-)social movement.