People thought I was crazy when I suggested the D.C. snipers were probably Islamic terrorists.

My staff knows I went so far as to name one of the shooters in advance – Mohammad.

I looked at the evidence – including the evidence that was being ignored by law enforcement because of political correctness and an irrational phobia about “racial profiling” – and concluded that the shooters were most likely acting in solidarity with al-Qaida.

I turned out to be right.

I’m not going quite that far today.

But I am suggesting it would be a mistake to overlook the distinct possibility that Islamic terrorists have contributed to the California wildfires.

Here’s what we know:

  • arson is suspected in at least some of the blazes;

  • al-Qaida was planning, according to one captive and an FBI memo last June, to torch forest land in the western United States as late as last summer;

  • al-Qaida is believed to have practiced for such a mission in the Australian bush country;

  • al-Qaida has taken inspiration before from Palestinian terrorists, who have torched hundreds of thousands of acres of Israeli forest; and

  • the fires plaguing California are, in many ways, the worst ever to hit the state.

To me that adds up to a strong circumstantial case. To me it would be crazy to dismiss the possibility without thorough investigation. To me it is always better to go where the facts lead you, to be suspicious of coincidences and to follow your gut instincts as a journalist.

That’s why I am shocked no one is asking the obvious questions about the wildfires in Southern California.

I saw this happen last year in the Washington area. I saw policemen discount eyewitnesses because they didn’t like the information they got. I saw government agencies bend over backward to say there was no reason to believe the shootings were connected with terrorism.

Yes there was.

The shootings were terrorism. There was no other apparent motive for them. The timing and the location were other clues.

Am I suggesting we attribute every bad thing that happens in the United States to terrorism or al-Qaida? Absolutely not. That, too, would be a mistake. Al-Qaida is not omnipresent, nor omniscient. Al-Qaida is, in fact, on the run – and probably weaker than at any time since 2001.

And that is precisely why a desperate act like this would be up its alley. It’s easy to start forest fires. It’s easy to start brushfires in parched Southern California when the Santa Ana winds are blowing. It’s easy to create mayhem and cause massive property damage and kill Americans when those kinds of blazes are already burning.

Could the arsonists be individuals unconnected to terrorism or al-Qaida? Absolutely. But no one has the motivation to resort to this kind of terror like Osama bin Laden’s agents.

What difference does it make who the arsonists are?

It makes a difference to me. I don’t think we’re doing all we can to defend our homeland. I don’t think we’re doing enough to patrol our borders and enforce our immigration laws. I don’t think we’re doing enough to monitor groups and individuals whose loyalty to the United States is questionable at best. I don’t think we’re doing enough to protect Americans, even while we are battling the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I could be wrong about my suspicions this time. I hope I am. But I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. I think it’s better to investigate with an open mind rather than by the dictates of political correctness.

We’ve missed clues before. We don’t want to miss any more.

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