THE ALF PRIMER -- page 1 of 3
A guide to direct action and the animal liberation front, third edition
download primer in .pdf format
Countless publications on economic sabotage are in print. A more known one
would be George Hayduke's Get Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks. Copies of the ALF
primer can be obtained from the North American Animal Liberation Front Support Group.
Also helpful is a series of essays written 2,300 years ago by Sun Tzu:
The History of the ALF
Who are the ALF?
The Animal Liberation Front Guidelines
One View of the ALF
Does Direct Action Work?
Are You Ready for the ALF?
Finding People to Work With
Before you even consider undertaking any action read this
entire guide, then read it again. Know every detail inside and out, particularly those
parts regarding preparation and security. We highly recommend you read
David Foreman, as well. Although oriented more towards environmental action, it is
incredibly detailed and informative. If what is presented here is the kindergarten class
on direct action, Ecodefense is the college course.
This guide is dedicated to the brave men and women of the
Animal Liberation Front. In this age of insanity you may be branded a terrorist, but you
will one day be remembered as a selfless warrior who dared to fight for what is right.
This guide is anti-copyrighted. Any reproduction, in part or
in full, without the expressed, written consent of the authors would be greatly
This guide is for your entertainment, information, and general
interest only. It is not meant to encourage the activities described within. We're just
writing this for the heck of it. We would never dream of encouraging someone to use the
proven-effective methods presented within to free innocent beings from the depths of hell,
or to destroy the tools used to torture, mutilate, and murder them. We'd much prefer you
sit at home watching TV and remain apathetic.
The History of the ALF
The Animal Liberation Front has its roots in 1960s England. At
this time a small group of people began sabotaging hunts there. This group, the Hunt
Saboteurs Association, would lay false scents, blow hunting horns to send hounds off in
the wrong direction, and chase animals to safety. In 1972, after effectively ending a
number of traditional hunting events across England, members of the Hunt Saboteurs decided
more militant action was needed, and thus began the Band of Mercy. They moved on to
destroying guns and sabotaging hunters vehicles by breaking windows and slashing tires.
They also began fighting other forms of animal abuse, burning seal hunting boats as well
as pharmaceutical laboratories. After the jailing of two Band of Mercy members in 1975,
word spread, support grew, and the Animal Liberation Front was begun in 1976.
Who are the ALF?
Members of the Animal Liberation Front act directly to stop
animal suffering, at the risk of losing their own freedom. Direct action refers to illegal
actions performed to bring about animal liberation. These are usually one of two things:
rescuing animals from laboratories or other places of abuse, or inflicting economic damage
on animal abusers. Due to the illegal nature of ALF activities, activists work
anonymously, and there is no formal organization to the ALF. There is no office, no
leaders, no newsletter, and no official membership. Anyone who carries out direct action
according to ALF guidelines is a member of the ALF.
Animal Liberation Front Guidelines
1. To liberate animals from places of abuse, i.e. fur farms,
laboratories, factory farms, etc. and place them in good homes where they may live out
their natural lives free from suffering.
2. To inflict economic damage to those who profit from the misery and
exploitation of animals.
3. To reveal the horror and atrocities committed against animals behind
locked doors by performing nonviolent direct actions and liberations.
4. To take all necessary precautions against hurting any animal, human
In the third section it is important to note the ALF does not, in any
way, condone violence against any animal, human or non-human. Any action involving
violence is by its definition not an ALF action, and any person involved is not an ALF member.
The fourth section must be strictly adhered to. In over 20 years, and
thousands of actions, nobody has ever been injured or killed in an ALF action.
This includes innocent bystanders:
One View of the ALF
One ALF member put it this way, "I see participating in
the ALFs raids not as a momentary forfeiture of the highest human values - goodness,
generosity and the like - but rather as an embodiment of them... We feel a sense of
urgency for the animals whose pain and imminent death is absolutely real to them
Does Direct Action Work?
Susan Paris, president of vivisection front group Americans
For Medical Progress (AMP), admits the Animal Liberation Front has had a large impact on
vivisectionists. She writes, "Because of terrorist acts by animal activists like
Coronado, crucial research projects have been delayed or scrapped. More and more of the
scarce dollars available to research are spent on heightened security and higher insurance
rates. Promising young scientists are rejecting careers in research. Top-notch researchers
are getting out of the field." The August 1993 Report to Congress on Animal
Enterprise Terrorism describes the ALFs effectiveness as, "Where the direct,
collateral, and indirect effects of incidents such as this are factored together, ALFs
professed tactic of economic sabotage can be considered successful, and its objectives, at
least towards the victimized facility, fulfilled." If we look past the
"terrorist" rhetoric, we can see that its a fact - direct action works. If you
don't take their word for it, ask any animal rescued by the ALF and I'm sure they would
agree that direct action works.
Are You Ready for the
Direct action is nothing to take lightly. The moment you carry
out your first action you are at risk of being arrested. Direct action is very demanding,
physically and mentally. Are you in top physical shape? If you were being chased by a
police officer, could you outrun him? Could you scale a barbed wire fence? Living under
the constant stress of possible arrest can take its toll mentally as well. ALF activists
should also remain drug and alcohol free, as these things decay physical and mental
ability, give the police another reason to investigate you, and waste money better spent
on supplies. Veganism is obviously encouraged, as it is both morally responsible, and will
better your physical condition. Some ALF members will also limit their association with
mainstream animal rights groups, as to remain less visible to police investigations.
Finding People to Work
One of the most important steps towards getting involved in
direct action is finding people to work with. In any ALF action you are putting your
freedom on the line, so you must be positive you can completely trust the people you are
working with. It is essential to find people who will not sell out you or the movement
should an arrest occur. You should always work with people who you know well and have for
a long period of time, people who you know you can rely on. Security is an important issue
in direct action, so people with a tendency to brag or who won't be able to keep their
mouth shut are a bad idea. Starting your own cell is better than joining an existing one,
since if you know of an existing one, their security obviously isn't too good. Asking
someone if they want to get involved is never an easy thing to do. Bring up the subject in
a general way and see how the person feels about direct action first, and move on from
there. Cells usually consist of 2 to 5 members. Use the minimum number of people needed
for each action, but don't forget the importance of look outs. Having extra people
unnecessarily puts them at risk. One person should be chosen as the leader of the group.
This doesn't mean that person has any special power or privileges, and it often wont come
into play at all. But if during an actions things go wrong, someone will need to make
split second decisions, and in this case there is no time for democracy. Progress as a
group, starting with minor actions to get used to each other, discussing after each action
what went well and what didn't, and discussing how to improve and hit harder.
Good Team Members
Bad Team Members
Before you even think about undertaking any action, read. Know
this guide inside and out. Before you do anything you'd better know how to do it right, or
you may wind up in a lot of trouble. As with anything, the first time is the hardest. So
start small. If your first action is a liberation of a large laboratory with high security
you are going to have problems. Start by gluing locks or some spray paint. You can go
about finding a target a few ways. First, you may want to decide what kind of
establishment you want to target - a fur shop, a butcher shop, a factory farm or
slaughterhouse, or maybe a fast food restaurant? If you are planning on getting involved
in direct action you are hopefully already aware of various animal rights issues and
probably know where and how to find whichever kind of abuser you want to target. Your
local animal rights group is probably aware of abusers in the area, but keep in mind that
local animal rights groups are the first people the police will question. The easiest way
to find a target is to let your fingers do the walking. A phone book can direct you to all
your local fur shops, butcher shops, etc. If fast food restaurants are your goal, you
can't go down the street without seeing one. Locations of fur farms can be found in The
Final Nail. Once you've begun and know what you are doing, go big. The more actions you
take part in the more likely it gets that you will get caught, so be sure that when you
hit you hit hard.
After selecting your target become familiar with it. You may
want to study a road map and become familiar with the surrounding area. You should first
visit the sight in daylight. Park well away in a non-suspicious place, like the parking
lot of a large store or a side road with many cars. Approach on foot and get as close as
possible. Take a good look around (without looking suspicious) and think about how you are
going to do whatever it is you are going to do. Once back to your car, draw a map
including everything you can remember. Now it is time to draw up your exact plan. Leave
nothing to chance. Figure out every detail and be certain that everyone is completely
familiar with every detail. You don't want to find yourself at the site trying to get your
act together. Next, return to the site once more before your action, this time at night.
Follow your route to the site just as it will be during your action. You can think of this
as a dress rehearsal. Get as close to the target as you can. This should also be as close
to the time of day your action will take place (actions are obviously almost always
carried out at night), so that you can see what security and other factors are in effect
at that time. Always plan for things to go wrong. Know what you will do if you come in
contact with a security officer or police. Know which way you will run, if you will go as
a group or alone, and where you will rendezvous. These recommendations are general. For
something as simple as gluing locks, less intense planning is needed. For something as
complex as a raid, more planning may be necessary.
Consider leaving your immediate area for actions; repeatedly
working close to home can be a tip off to police. Also be sure to not keep a regular
schedule of days and times your actions take place - if the police establish your pattern
its one more thing they can use to catch you. As tempting as it is, avoid hitting the same
place repeatedly. This is how a good number of people get caught. If you choose to report
your actions, don't name your specific group. If so, the police will know just what actions
are carried out by your group, making finding you easier. Always have a story set if
stopped by the police. Know where it is you will say you are coming from and going to. If
you are going to be using your car for actions, remove all bumper stickers. Also be sure
all lights, license plates, etc. are OK. Drive carefully and legally. Don't give them
reason to stop you. Be sure to have enough gas before leaving for an action, so you
have to stop on the way, or especially while transporting animals. Clothing is important
as well. Wear nothing with identifiable markings. Consider many targets are equipped with
security cameras, and always assume the one you are hitting is. Any tattoos should be
covered, any piercing covered or removed. You want to wear dark colors, but all black can
look suspicious, so just keep it dark but not unusual. Ski masks are commonly employed
during direct action, but be ready to ditch them if need be - they can be quite
incriminating, especially on a summer night. A hooded sweatshirt, a baseball cap, and a
scarf are a better idea in some locations. On high risk operations you may want to get
some oversized shoes from a thrift shop to avoid leaving tell tale footprints. Stuffing
the toes will make them wearable. Another option is to keep a pair of shoes used just for
direct action with your tools at a safe house. If this is the case, only put them on while
on the way to an action and take them off on the way back, as not leave corresponding
footprints around your house or on your carpet. Wearing socks over your shoes or covering
the soles in duct tape also works well against footprints. For actions where the police
are going to be investigating more heavily, even hairs and fibers on clothing may be a
problem. In this case you can buy clothes from a thrift store just for that night, and
throw them away afterwards. Another possibility on high risk operations is to wear boiler
suits, which cover all your clothes, and can be removed quickly after back to the car.
Always wear gloves and be mindful of fingerprints. Be careful of using thin latex gloves,
since fingerprints can be left through them. Put one pair over another if you choose to
use them. Fingerprints will also be left on the inside of the glove, so if you use them,
dispose of them separately from any other evidence. Be careful whenever purchasing
equipment for an action. Buying a gallon of bright red paint a block from home and dumping
it on the McDonalds two blocks away the same day is not a good idea. Purchase everything
far away from home and always with cash, as well as long before an action is to take place
when possible. Be careful of using materials that will give away where you are from. For
instance, if using newspapers in an arson attack far from home, using your local paper
will be dead give-away. Wipe everything you are taking with you completely to remove
fingerprints, in case anything is dropped or has to be left behind. You have to scrub hard
to remove prints, and some soap or rubbing alcohol may help. Clean everything as if it is
going to be left behind, since sooner or later something you didn't plan to leave will
For this same reason you should take as little as possible with you,
and connect whatever you must take to your body. A rubber band through your belt loop with
each end attached to your key chain will keep it secure, even if you are being chased and
have to go headfirst over a fence, etc. Even if you don't touch something while purchasing
it by wearing gloves for instance, wipe it anyway so it cant be traced Obviously, do not
have drugs, weapons, or anything else illegal on you or in you car during an action. If
you are using tools such as crowbars or bolt cutters (this is mostly for liberations),
sharpen or file them after every action, since slight markings on the tool can leave
traceable markings on what is opened. Also, never keep tools at your house. If you are
keeping tools used in actions, store them at a safe house. A safe house is the house of a
person not involved in the actions at all, someone who the police would never investigate.
Tools and clothing should never be disposed of in your own garbage. A large dumpster at a
store or restaurant is an ideal place to dispose of evidence. Never buy cheap tools,
especially if you are using walkie talkies. Your freedom and the animals lives are on the
line, so go for the quality equipment. Before setting out for an action, spend about 30
minutes outside in the dark. This will improve your night vision. When using flashlights,
regular light will ruin your night vision. Red or blue lenses will not, and are also
preferable because they are less visible from a distance. Military flashlights, available
at Army/Navy stores come with red or blue lenses. Another piece of equipment that can
greatly increase security is walkie talkies. Having lookouts set up and connected to the
team via radio can increase warning times from seconds to minutes. The Walkman/headset
style are ideal, and are commonly available at Radio Shack for a reasonable price. Night
vision scopes are another useful tool. They take existing light and magnify it tens of
thousands of times, allowing one to virtually see in the dark. Top of the line night
vision equipment is out of the financial range of most activists, but earlier models are
available for a few hundred dollars at Army/Navy and survival stores. For very thorough
information on radios, night vision scopes, and many other useful bits of technology,
The government is actively monitoring animal liberationists,
particularly suspected members of the ALF, so watch your back. They are opening mail and
tapping phone lines, so never ever ever say anything incriminating over the phone, mail,
or e-mail. Always assume that you are being watched and your house may be searched at any
time (they have gone so far as dismantling heating ducts while searching the houses of
suspected ALF members, so never assume anything is hidden well enough). Discussing direct
action works on a need-to-know basis. Never tell anyone anything that they do not
absolutely need to know. Never discuss actions with people not involved, for your safety
and theirs. If someone asks you about the ALF, say that you aren't involved, but you have
heard or read about it. That way you can discuss the ALF without incriminating yourself.
If someone says something incriminating over the phone, quickly excuse yourself and hang
up before they can get another word in, then explain to them what they did wrong next time
you see them in person. Keep in mind that homes, cars, and anywhere else can be bugged.
Try to discuss actions in areas that are secure (where nobody can overhear), but that they
would be unable to bug. Take a walk through the woods, for instance. Except for the
purpose of improving your group and its effectiveness, once an action has taken place,
never discuss it again. The damage was done, animals lives were saved, and that's the
important thing. Bringing up old "war stories" is an unnecessary risk. All this
may seem like paranoia, but the government will go to any length stop us. Besides, its
better to be a little paranoid than in jail.
Start small, then move on to bigger things. Even the simplest
actions take practice to get right, so try one thing at a time until you've gotten it down.
Once you've mastered the small things, use them in combination to really ruin an abusers
day. Think about possibilities of combining breaking windows and paint bombs for instance.
Be sure to start with the quietest parts when doing a number of things. What is outlined
here are general methods used by the ALF. Every location and building is different, so
after checking over your target, you should both modify these methods based on the
specific area and target itself, and feel free to be creative and come up with new ways to
do damage. Creativity will make you more effective, harder to catch since you are less
predictable, and make whatever security they come up with less effective.