Washington, DC – FBI investigations into the activities of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which were recently publicized by the American Civil Liberties Union, are entirely justified and serve to protect the public from animal-rights violence, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom said today. PETA’s history of offering both financial and rhetorical support to FBI-designated “domestic terror” threat groups — including the violent Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) — has made it a logical and important subject for in-depth scrutiny by federal law enforcement.

“Given PETA’s deplorable behavior and outright support of terrorist violence, it would be scandalous if the FBI were not aggressively investigating the group,” said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. “PETA has chosen time and time again to make common cause with the most violent elements of the animal rights movement. It’s outrageous that PETA is now playing the victim and complaining about the consequences of its actions.”

PETA has provided the FBI with numerous reasons to open a formal investigation, including:

• PETA’s 2001 federal income tax return disclosed a $1,500 contribution to the “North American Earth Liberation Front” (ELF) — an environmental terrorist group responsible for tens of millions of dollars in arson damage. Last week the FBI announced six major arrests of ELF arson suspects. PETA’s $1,500 check to the ELF is the only such donation to be publicly acknowledged by any American individual or group.

• PETA’s other tax filings have revealed a $2,000 cash payment to then-ALF spokesman David Wilson, and a $5,000 gift to current federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism defendant Joshua Harper.

• During the 1990s, PETA paid over $70,000 for the unsuccessful legal defense of ALF arsonist Rodney Coronado after he set a fire that destroyed a Michigan State University research facility. In a sentencing memorandum to the court, the prosecuting U.S. Attorney wrote that PETA president Ingrid Newkirk “arranged days before the MSU arson occurred” for Coronado to send her stolen documents from the crime scene and a videotape of the arson being committed.

• In 1999 No Compromise (a self-described “militant, direct action magazine” for supporters of the ALF) published a list of its financial benefactors. That list included PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, two other PETA officers, and PETA itself.

• At a 2001 national animal-rights convention, PETA campaign director Bruce Friedrich told a large audience of activists that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows [is] a great way to bring about animal liberation,” before adding: “It would be great if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow … Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”

• Since 2002 PETA has paid an activist named Gary Yourofsky to promote animal rights to U.S. middle-school and high-school children. Yourofsky is a felon who was convicted of committing a Canadian farm burglary for which a claim of responsibility was issued in the name of the ALF. Yourofsky told The Toledo Blade in 2002 that he would “unequivocally support” the death of medical researchers in an ALF arson fire. PETA first hired Yourofsky after he gave this interview.

“PETA has a long history of supporting and encouraging unlawful activity — including violence — in the name of animal rights,” added Martosko. “PETA has been lying down with dogs for 25 years, so it’s no surprise that it’s waking up with fleas. It’s outrageous that PETA’s leaders are holding the FBI responsible. They have nobody to blame but themselves.”