Reaction to al Qaeda forest fire arson threat

Wildfire Today reported on May 2 that a magazine published by members of al Qaeda has called for Western Muslims to wage war within the United States, urging them to engage in lone wolf attacks, including setting forest fires. The article gave detailed instructions on how to build an “ember bomb” in order to set wildfires in the United States and Australia, and specifically suggested Montana as a choice location. The magazine article led the national news programs for a couple of days. Here are some of the reactions that have surfaced in response.

Dr. Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

…But [Dr. Bergin] said Australian authorities had recently adopted more sophisticated approaches to firefighting, including surveillance and land clearing measures.

The article provides specific examples and statistics of devastating bushfires in NSW and Queensland. It does not mention the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009.

The article talks up the devastation caused by fires and provides details about the best times of the year to start a fire in different parts of Australia.

The article says of past fires in Australia: ”These fires ruined the dry before the green, exhausted lives and properties, wiped out a lot of farms and houses, destroyed thousands of trees that are used in manufacturing and created an atmosphere of terror and panic.”

Montana’s Missoulian:

An al-Qaida threat to burn Western Montana’s forests hasn’t had the intended effect on Darby Marshal Larry Rose.

When the terrorist organization’s English-language magazine recently advised its readers to use forest fires to destabilize the United States, it used the fires of 2000 as an example — and said Western Montana was the ideal location for such an attack.

Specifically it recalled how in August 2000, “wildfires extended on the sides of a valley, south of Darby town. Six separated fires started and then met to form a massive fire that burnt down tens of houses.”

The magazine suggested using “ember bombs” to ignite forests, providing instructions for building trigger mechanisms and advice about the best weather conditions to promote big burns.

“My comment is the forests are pretty much all burnt up,” Rose said on Friday. “What more would they burn here?”

The fires of 2000 burned nearly 400,000 acres of the Bitterroot Valley, including much of the hillsides around Darby. Most were started by lightning during an extremely dry summer.

The idea that jihadist infiltrators might build upon their 9/11 World Trade Center destruction by torching trees hadn’t sparked much coffee-counter conversation, Rose said. It also hadn’t produced any alerts from the Department of Homeland Security for heightened vigilance.

The U.S. Forest Service:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the U.S Forest Service, works closely with its partners within the intelligence community, including both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice on any terrorist threats, including threats of this nature,” said Forest Service spokesman Brandan Schulze. “We are asking Forest Service employees, law enforcement and the general public to continue to be vigilant for any signs of wildfires, and to report unusual circumstances or situations that seem out of the ordinary for outdoor recreation on all public lands.

A video from ABC News:

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Thanks go out to Chris and Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “Reaction to al Qaeda forest fire arson threat”

  1. @Emmett: LOL

    Re: the Missoulian story, Larry Rose has his own kind of special reputation in Darby and the Bitterroot Valley. Though the hills and canyons around Darby did burn bigtime 12 years ago, it’s not like there’s no fuels left. I worked on a fire there summer of ’07 just out of town and there were still considerable fuels available – five years ago. If you drive from there over Skalkaho toward Philipsburg, it will give you the chills to look at all the burned-but-still-standing fuels on steeeeep slopes. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near there if you sprinkled THAT with lightning on a dry summer day.

  2. Sounds likes the media is drumming up some support more TSA and more constitutional rights violations. What’s next profiling people in the forests?

    1. HUH?? I don’t think the US TSA would ever be involved except on airline flights. And this article talks about Aussie and US issues: who’s Constitution are you referring to, and where does it mention violating either countries rights? Got to go now and check under my bed for Commies that might still be lurking out there.


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