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Molotov Cocktail Incident Probed

Device possibly made by animal rights activists failed to ignite and was left at the wrong house.

July 13, 2006|From a Times staff writer

Investigators with the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force say they are trying to track down the would-be arsonist or arsonists who tried to set off a crude incendiary device at a home in Bel-Air.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the task force is investigating the case as "an act of domestic terrorism." She provided few details about the device, saying only that it resembled those that have been used by animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists.

Authorities said the arson attempt appears to have been botched in two ways: The device failed to ignite, and it apparently was planted at the wrong home. It was left beside a house occupied by a 70-year-old woman and her tenant, described as a middle-aged man.

Arson investigators with the Los Angeles Fire Department found the device on June 30 after receiving a tip. But neither they nor other terrorism task force members disclosed the incident until Wednesday, the day after an animal rights website reported that the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attempt.

The website, run by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said the Animal Liberation Front "took credit" for leaving a Molotov cocktail on the porch of the home of a UCLA psychiatry professor who studies primate behavior.

The website portrayed the professor as a "primate vivisector."

The Animal Liberation Front has been linked by the FBI to fire bombings and vandalism causing millions of dollars in damage and is considered by federal authorities as a domestic terrorist organization.

Authorities are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the crime. The FBI may be reached 24 hours a day at (310) 477-6565.

Those with information also can contact their local law enforcement agency.

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