Animal rights protesters threaten 10 attacks every night in violent campaign

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The Independent Online

Animal rights militants threatened yesterday to deliver a "knockout blow to the fur trade" as part of the most extreme campaign in their history. The Animal Liberation Front is threatening to launch "10 attacks a night" on organisations and individuals across Britain this winter.

Animal rights militants threatened yesterday to deliver a "knockout blow to the fur trade" as part of the most extreme campaign in their history. The Animal Liberation Front is threatening to launch "10 attacks a night" on organisations and individuals across Britain this winter.

As campaigners prepare for violence and sabotage, the fur industry - one of its most hated targets - claims to be enjoying a boom. Furs are back in fashion on the catwalks of Paris, Milan and New York and the mantra of a decade ago that models would "rather go naked than wear fur" appears all but forgotten.

In Kent this weekend, 300 animal rights activists gathered at a training camp to learn tactics ranging from self-defence and promoting veganism to targeting companies and laboratories. At the same time, the Animal Liberation Front, an umbrella for estimated 2,000 members prepared to take illegal and violent action, will step its long-fought campaign against the vivisection, meat, animal clothing and entertainment industries.

Robin Webb, a spokesman, said: "What has caused an enormous amount of anger and made the movement take two steps to the radical wing is Labour's lies at the 1997 election. Labour promised new rights for animals and the movement canvassed voters for them, but they haven't delivered. We've been betrayed, animal abuse continues and now the actions will escalate." Possible actions include breaking windows, graffiti, gluing locks, picketing employees' homes and mock postal bombs. Targets for arson include refrigerated meat lorries, and fur farmers, traders and department store stockists.

Meanwhile, the British Fur Trade Association claims a 35 per cent rise on 2002-03 sales and says the business is worth £500m a year. Frank Zilberkweit, the owner of Hockley, London's largest specialist furrier, said sales this summer were three times higher than the same season last year. "We're not sure if it will stay that high all through winter," he said, speaking from a fur trading fair in Copenhagen. "But the market is very strong. There's huge demand - everyone here has under-bought."

The trade is boosted by celebrity endorsement - Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Elizabeth Hurley and Christina Aguilera have all recently been pictured in fur, as have the models Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, who previously signed up to anti-fur campaigns.

Mr Webb said the ALF had noted the resurgence of the fur trade "after 20 years of convalescence". The group, he said, "looks back to the Eighties and sees it made a mistake in not delivering the knockout blow to the fur trade when it was on its knees, when shops were set on fire. If that happens now, I'm not sure it would recover."

"If people want to campaign in a legal way then that's fine," says Mr Zilberkweit. "But everyone in the fur trade has experienced unpleasant mail and harassment from extremists."

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