Zine Written By Informant Justin Samuel While on the Run
The travel zine written by my former co-defendant while he was a fugitive in Europe.
It is with some hesitancy I publish this document: The zine written in 1999 by my former friend and co-defendant Justin Samuel, documenting the experiences leading up to his arrest. To my knowledge, the existence of this was never publicized until now.
Some details: This zine was authored by the fugitive mink liberator and covers roughly the period of November 1997 (just after we went on the run) to November 1998. For obvious reasons, he authored it anonymously. He was arrested in Belgium about 10 months later.
The zine is titled “World Within”, and covers Justin Samuel’s European and Middle Eastern travels while a fugitive. He was 20 years old. He writes about his experiences riding bikes, hitchhiking, and generally living nomadically and with little money through several countries, including Syria, Israel, Belgium, England, Jordan, and more.
The fact that he is a fugitive on the run from federal charges is not mentioned, for obvious reasons.
It is a small miracle this document has survived the passing of 13 years. So the story goes, there were only a handful of photocopied hard copies ever printed. A person (who apparently had no idea who the author was) came across a copy in Israel, felt it deserved a wider audience, transcribed the entire zine, and posted it online. The original website has remained live for the last 12 years, with no indication as to who its anonymous author was.
It is vastly more interesting when read with the knowledge that the anonymous author is an American on the run from the law. For example, this quote, on his decision to travel:
“My new lifestyle allowed me almost no contact with my family and friends, and I didn’t see that as negative. I was free from all ties I had to the old me.”
The original layout has been lost to time, but a text version (with some graphics) has been preserved, and is posted below.
In 1997, Samuel and I released thousands of mink from fur farms in several states before being pulled over by police near the Zimbal Minkery in Oostburg, Wisconsin. After our vehicle was searched, we went on the run, knowing charges were imminent.
Samuel was arrested in Belgium in September 1999, after an ID check following an anti-nuclear weapons rally revealed his warrants in the US. He was extradited and quickly entered into a plea deal in which he agreed to implicate me and others in exchange for a reduced sentence. He was released in 2001.
Justin Samuel, post-felony road trip
By the time I last saw Samuel, he had undergone significant changes from the person I visited fur farms with. He had taken a sharp left turn towards an odd fusion of anarchism and Buddhism (evident in this zine), which included retracting support for many ALF tactics. At the time, I did not see this as the alarming harbinger I perhaps should have, still believing that his anti-authoritarian politics would carry over into jail, should he get arrested first and be in a position to implicate me.
As history showed, I was wrong.
My dilemma about publishing this
I’ve been sitting on this for some time, often considering posting but always refraining. While it is perhaps of some historical interest (albeit to a small number of people), my hesitancy comes in a couple forms.
One: Because of Samuel’s testimony, I have a natural aversion to publishing anything that might humanize him or showcase his work. His zine, while not profound, is not entirely uninteresting. Were it not tarnished by some corrupt authorship, many would find it a good read.
Second, I fail to see it having any movement-level value. It does not provide any insight or lessons to draw from. It is merely an introspective travel zine that is of interest on a voyeuristic level alone.
There may be one lesson here…
If there is something of value to be extracted from this, it is an important lesson I don’t see often acknowledged: There is absolutely no relationship between how “radical” one’s ostensible politics, and the true makeup of their character. One’s convictions are spoken entirely through their actions, and have no relationship to their words.
In this zine we see Samuel cover the entire checklist of “revolutionary” politics – from capitalism to overconsumption. Yet within months of writing this, he was groveling for mercy at the feet of FBI agents and selling out his friends (myself and others) for a marginally reduced prison sentence.
I hope that is the uncomfortable but lasting lesson of this zine.
World Within zine by Justin Samuel