Good afternoon, Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Jeffords and members of the Committee. My name is Mark Bibi. I am General Counsel of Life Sciences Research and its operating subsidiary, Huntingdon Life Sciences. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the dangers posed by SHAC , identified by the FBI as one of the nation’s leading domestic terrorist threats. It is a serious matter and deserves a serious response.
LSR is a publicly traded company headquartered near Princeton, New Jersey. An important part of our work is to conduct government-required animal testing on drugs and chemicals to identify risks to humans, animals and the environment. Because of these efforts to make sure products are safe, HLS and those who do business with us have been relentlessly terrorized by SHAC.
As I awoke on a chilly November morning and looked out my window, the fears that had been building ever since I was first targeted for terror by SHAC a few months earlier were realized. My car’s front windshield had been smashed with a large boulder. The car was covered with animal rights graffiti. Warning messages were spray painted all over my house – “Pup Killer”; “Close HLS”; “Quit Now”. I immediately knew that I had been the victim of a SHAC attack. The impact of this violence -- and the implicit threat of future violence -- is a terrifying life-changing event.
A few months earlier SHAC identified me as a target in their newsletter and on their web site. They posted my name, home address and phone number, with the exhortation “Go get ‘em.” Almost immediately, the harassment and intimidation had begun – nasty phone calls in the middle of the night. Threatening letters and e-mails. Protesters at my home screaming through bullhorns that I’m a “murderer”. And now the sanctity and safety of my home had been violated.
Other SHAC targets have suffered beatings, acid attacks, car and letter bombings.
SHAC uses these terror tactics not only against HLS and its employees, but also against third parties to force them to sever their business relationships with Huntingdon. Time and again, in dozens of cases, both customers’ and HLS’ providers –from accounting firms, to banks, to lawn gardeners and even our security firm –have been forced by fear to capitulate to SHAC’s demand that they cease working with us, deciding it’s safer to them and their employees to give in rather than to suffer the personal harassment and intimidation.
SHAC is now attacking the integrity and independence of the US stock market system. LSR’s stock trades on the OTCBB market. SHAC targets and harasses any market maker that dares to trade in LSR stock, and more than forty market makers have caved in to SHAC’s intimidation. Only one, Legacy Trading, currently consistently makes a market in LSR stock.
SHAC has a current campaign against LSR’s institutional investors. Taking advantage of public SEC filings to identify those institutional investors, SHAC has intimidated most of them into selling their LSR stock, causing significant dislocation in the market.
But perhaps the most shameful apparent capitulation to date and that which poses the greatest risk to the US economy is that of the New York Stock Exchange. In the summer of this year LSR entered into listing discussions with the NYSE. We met all of the financial requirements to list our stock on the Exchange. We told them about the SHAC campaign. The NYSE dismissed the potential risks, pointing out that since 9/11, they had been a target of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, assuring us they would not be scared off by SHAC. We spent a number of weeks completing all the necessary paperwork and interviews, keeping in regular contact with NYSE staff throughout, and on August 22nd the NYSE told us that we had been authorized for listing. We issued a press release announcing that approval and reporting that we expected to begin trading on the NYSE on September 7; that press release was approved in advance by the NYSE, and the President of the NYSE, Catherine Kinney, even included a quote welcoming us.
On the morning of September 7 our senior management team went to the NYSE’s Wall Street headquarters for the original listing celebration. But only minutes before we were to go down to the trading floor to watch the first trade in LSR stock, the President of the NYSE told us that they would not be listing LSR stock that day, and that our listing was postponed. One of my LSR colleagues and I spent the next hour or so meeting with senior NYSE officials. We spoke only about the animal rights campaign against the Company. It was patently clear to me that the only reason the NYSE postponed our listing was because of concerns about the SHAC campaign.
All Americans took pride when the New York Stock Exchange reopened for business only four business days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet, apparently purely on the basis of a perceived threat from SHAC, the NYSE postponed plans to list LSR. A handful of animal extremists had succeeded where Osama bin Laden had failed.
We have received no information from the NYSE since September 7. They have never raised with us any question of our eligibility or suitability to list. They have not asked us for any further information. We just seem to have been indefinitely postponed, with no indications as to when – if ever –the NYSE will tell us anything.
The risks posed by SHAC should not be underestimated. SHAC is the tip of the iceberg –they are the test case for a whole new brand of activism through personal intimidation. Other activist campaigns are no doubt waiting in the wings to see how SHAC is dealt with. Imagine the impact if SHAC tactics were used by those opposed to various other industries from defense, to mining, to oil, to timber, to who knows what else.
SHAC’s greatest impact has come in targeting third parties doing business with or providing services to HLS. I urge the Congress to adopt more effective laws that can be used to control this third party targeting.
We cannot allow the domestic terrorism practiced, fostered and encouraged by SHAC to flourish in our own backyard.
Thank you for your time. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.