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$110,000 is offered for clues in firebomb plot against UCLA doctor

July 25, 2007|Larry Gordon | Times Staff Writer

Federal and local officials on Tuesday announced a $110,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in the attempted firebombing of a prominent UCLA eye doctor's car last month.

A group known as the Animal Liberation Brigade claimed responsibility on a website for the act, which authorities described as "domestic terrorism."

On June 24, an incendiary device was lighted next to a car parked at the Westside home of Dr. Arthur Rosenbaum, who is chief of pediatric ophthalmology at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute.

The device did not ignite, but authorities said it had the potential to cause great harm.

Rosenbaum has conducted research that, among other things, used monkeys to test procedures correcting severe cross-eyed conditions.

UCLA says that all animal research at the university is humane and meets federal standards.

At a news conference Tuesday at FBI offices in Westwood, law enforcement officials urged anyone with information about last month's incident to call the FBI at (310) 477-6565; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at (888) 283-2662; or local law enforcement agencies.

"We are always concerned when we see advocacy migrate to acts of violence," said Janice Fedarcyk, the special agent in charge of the FBI's counterterrorism division in Los Angeles. "And clearly in this instance we have seen a situation where a person or persons unknown have demonstrated that willingness to go and actually engage in an act of violence."

Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss expressed outrage at the attempted firebombing, which occurred in his district.

"I know kids who play on that street. I know people who walk their dogs in that neighborhood," he said. "This was a cowardly and despicable act of terror."

The $110,000 reward was offered jointly by the city of Los Angeles, UCLA, the FBI and the ATF.

Officials said they were investigating possible links to a similar incident last year.

An explosive was lighted but did not explode outside the Bel-Air house of an elderly woman. The house apparently had been targeted by mistake; the intended victim was believed to be a UCLA researcher who lived nearby.

A $60,000 reward is still being offered in that case, and no arrests have been made.

larry.gordon@latimes.com

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