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Terror unit probes fire at home

An incendiary device ignites at the house of UCLA researcher who does animal research.

February 06, 2008|Andrew Blankstein and Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writers

Authorities are investigating a fire caused by a device left Tuesday at a house owned by a UCLA professor who conducts animal research -- the second time the house has been targeted in less than four months.

The device was placed Monday morning on the front porch of a Westside house owned by Edythe London, FBI officials in Los Angeles said.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, February 07, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Fire investigation: An article in Wednesday's California section about an investigation of a suspicious fire at a house owned by a UCLA professor who conducts animal research incorrectly attributed a quote to Chancellor Gene Block. The quote, "Violence has once again been directed at a UCLA faculty member who conducts research involving laboratory animals," should have been attributed to university spokesman Phil Hampton.

London, a professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences and of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, uses lab monkeys in her research on nicotine addiction.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed that officials with the Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating the incident.

"It was ignited and caused damage to the property," Eimiller said. "No one was home at the time and nobody was hurt."

Eimiller said no one had claimed responsibility. But the agency is investigating the allegation that the Animal Liberation Front used a garden hose to flood London's house Oct. 20 in an attempt to stop her animal experiments.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned Tuesday's vandalism.

"Violence has once again been directed at a UCLA faculty member who conducts research involving laboratory animals. . . . These kinds of deplorable tactics have no place in a civilized society," Block said.

"UCLA is working closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those responsible for this and other acts of violence against our researchers," he said.

Meanwhile, authorities are also investigating ties between the October incident and one in June in which an incendiary device was lighted, but did not explode, next to a car at the home of a UCLA eye disease researcher.

In an op-ed piece in The Times in November, London wrote that researchers should not give in to intimidation and violence. "To me, nothing could be more important than solving the mysteries of addiction and learning how we can restore a person's control over his or her own life," London wrote. "We must not allow these extremists to stop important research that advances the human condition."

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

greg.krikorian@latimes.com

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