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Forest fires latest terror threat?

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 07/12/2003 @ 5:30 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled

As brushfire season heats up, an FBI memo raises the alert that national forests in the West could be the next target for terror by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

The June 25 memo, obtained by the Arizona Republic, warns law enforcement that a senior al-Qaida detainee told interrogators he planned to spark multiple, catastrophic wildfires simultaneously in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming in order to strike a blow to the United States economy.

The plot called for three or four operatives to travel to the U.S. and set timed explosive devices in forests and grasslands, which would be detonated after the operatives had fled the country.

“The detainee believed that … once it was realized that the fires were terrorist acts, U.S. citizens would put pressure on the U.S. government to change its policies,” the memo stated, according to The Republic.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wyoming are unsure about the veracity of the detainee’s information.

“The information provided may have been intended to influence as well as inform,” the memo said.

The Forest Service took note of the warning, a spokeswoman told The Republic, but hasn’t taken any action on it.

Similarly, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, took the alert in stride.

“It goes along with the rest of the alerts,” Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the interagency fire center told the paper. “It’s a reminder to be vigilant. We hope the public is, too. If you see something suspicious in an airport, report it. Likewise, if you see something suspicious in a forest, report it.”


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