AIVD publishes report 'Animal rights extremism in the Netherlands'

The tactics used by animal rights extremists are often extremely intimidating for their victims, many of whom have come under attack in their personal domain. Moreover, the number of acts of violence committed by extremists has been rising. That is one of the conclusions revealed in the report Animal rights extremism in the Netherlands – fragmented but growing, which is published by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD). The report describes the major developments in Dutch animal rights extremism since June 2007.

In the new publication, the AIVD draws a clear distinction between activism and extremism. The main difference between the two is that activists operate within the law, whilst extremists deliberately commit illegal and sometimes violent acts in their pursuit of animal rights objectives.

The AIVD has identified links between certain campaigning organisations and extremist activities. In the public domain these groups remain within the bounds of what is permissible by law, but certain individuals closely associated with them also are also involved in clandestine and violent illegal acts.

Preventing actions by animal rights extremists is difficult. First and foremost, this is because they are extremely security-conscious. Attacks are carefully prepared, often drawing upon detailed research and preceded by reconnaissance of the target and its surroundings. Finally, some of the perpetrators are so-called “lone wolves” who plan and carry out their actions in total isolation from the rest of the movement.

Public sources

The AIVD has observed that extremists find it easy to gather information about their targets. Finding addresses, for example, can be relatively straightforward using sources like the Chamber of Commerce database and social networking websites. The result, says the report, is unwelcome nocturnal activity around the homes of researchers and the directors of companies and institutions.

To increase the security-awareness of these potential targets, the AIVD has recently posted an Animal Rights Extremism Dossier on its website. This includes advice and tips on how to counter the threat.