Editor’s note: The following report is adapted from the latest issue of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND. Annual subscriptions to G2 Bulletin are $99. Monthly trial subscriptions for credit card users are $9.95 and provide instant access to the reports.
Firefighters battle Southern California blaze (Courtesy San Diego Union Tribune)
WASHINGTON – While websites frequented by jihadis have been ablaze with claims of responsibility for setting the California wildfires, terror leaders also urged arson attacks as a tactic last summer, according to a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
In July, a post was made to numerous jihadist boards and then spread to a number of blogs citing a previously issued fatwa authorizing the setting of forest fires as a weapon of jihad. The post began “this is an invitation to the Muslims of Europe and America, Australia and Russia to burn forests.” It went on to state the justification under Islamic Sharia law for this action and to cite its benefits for jihadists.
The post, revealed in G2 Bulletin’s report, cites an undated video that shows Abu Mus’ab al Suri, author of “Call to Global Islamic Resistance” and advocate of the doctrine of individual terrorism, discussing the benefits to the jihad of setting forest fires.
Last year, the report points out, Maj. Robert Arthur Baird of the U.S. Marine Corps wrote in the May 2006 issue of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism: “The United States is at significant risk of a future pyro-terrorist attack – when terrorists unleash the latent energy in the nation’s forests to achieve the effect of a weapon of mass destruction – the threat, must be defined America’s vulnerabilities understood and action taken to mitigate this danger to the United States.”
In his master’s thesis, Major Baird also discusses arson as a terror tactic and sees it as a very real risk: “Instead of using expensive, complex and readily detectable nuclear or radiological bombs, a terrorist could easily ignite several massive wildfires to severely damage regional economies, impact military and firefighting forces and terrorize the American people.”
He goes on to state that a terrorist has the potential to “unleash multiple fires creating a conflagration potentially equal to a multi-megaton nuclear weapon.”
Is that what has happened this year?
California authorities have confirmed some of the wildfires were set deliberately, and a terror watch organization says the circumstances match terror plans the FBI alerted law enforcement to several years ago.
“In 2003 an FBI memo alerted law enforcement agencies that an al-Qaida terrorist being held in detention had talked of masterminding a plot to set a series of devastating forest fires around the western United States,” the National Terror Alert Response Center warned.
“It was reported that the detainee, who was not identified, said the plan involved three or four people setting wildfires using timed devices in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming that would detonate in forests and grasslands after the operatives had left the country,” the advisory continued. “The detainee believed that significant damage to the U.S. economy would result and 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.”
WND reported in 2004 that an Arabic-language jihadi website also posted a message purporting to be “al-Qaida’s plan of economic attack” on the U.S. that including proposals to turn the nation’s forests into raging infernos.
The National Terror Alert Response Center report said, “We are NOT implying that the California fires are an act of terrorism; however, the threat of pyro-terrorist attacks pose a significant risk to the U.S. and the fires in California and Greece earlier this year should be a wake-up call.”
Less than two months ago, between four and five dozen people were killed and scores more hospitalized with serious injuries as a result of wildfires in portions of Greece. Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis expressed his suspicions.
“So many fires sparked simultaneously in so many places is no coincidence,” he said when the blazes erupted.
And Terror Watch notes a top prosecutor in Greece now has begun investigating whether the arsons were, in fact, terrorism.
Dimitris Papangelopoulos said the investigation will determine “whether the crimes of arsonists and of arson attacks on forests” should be prosecuted under the nation’s anti-terrorism law.
Arab terrorists in Israel have started dozens of major forest fires over the years.
As far back as 1988, Israeli police caught more than a dozen Palestinian adults in the act of setting fires, while other Arabs confessed to arson after arrest. Some fires followed specific calls by underground Arab terrorists. A leaflet issued by the Palestinian uprising’s underground leadership called for “the destruction and burning of the enemy’s properties, industry and agriculture.”
Subscribe today to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin to stay on top of all the latest breaking developments in the intelligence world. Annual subscriptions are $99, but credit card users can get immediate access right now for only $9.95 a month.