The central California farm of John Harris – one of the state's most prominent Thoroughbred horsemen and its biggest cattle rancher – was attacked earlier this week by a radical animal rights group that set afire tractor trailors and cattle carriers in an act authorities are calling eco-terrorism.
The Harris Farms Thoroughbred division of the ranch, home to a number of stallions including leading California sire Unusual Heat, was not affected.
Harris, a Jockey Club member who has led several racing organizations including the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and California Horse Racing Board, told the Fresno Bee he was “appalled by this senseless, but very alarming attack.”
A group known as the Animal Liberation Front took credit for the crime, which occurred at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday morning. In an email to an environmental press office, the ALF said “containers of an accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with 4-digital timers used to light four of the containers and kerosene-soaked rope carrying the fire to the other 10 … We were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks ‘were a total loss.'”
The statement ended with the haunting works “until next time.”
Harris said he was “gratified by the support and concern we have received from the public and the outrage this attack has created. … We must live in a society that is safe for all and no one can tolerate violence such as this. ALF and similar terrorist groups pose a real threat, and I am confident that the many law enforcement agencies working on this case will bring them to justice soon.”
Harris told Bloodhorse.com he has stepped up security at the sprawling Coalinga ranch and does not rule out possible attacks against horse farms. “The ALF is rather unpredictable in what they might attack, although they want to disrupt any human use of animals for any purpose,” Harris wrote in an email to the publication.
Several of the FBI's most wanted domestic terrorists are believed to be affiliated with the ALF. In 2005, a deputy assistant director of the FBI called the group “one of today's most serious domestic terrorism threats” in the United States.
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