Forest fires as an act of jihad?

"...can prevent forest jihad."

“…can prevent forest jihad.”

Summertime is forest fire season in much of the western United States; here in California, it’s almost an annual ritual to watch some part or another (or several at once) of the state go up in smoke.  And the causes can be as mundane as they are frustrating: firebugs getting their thrills; careless campers or hikers; or idiots shooting off fireworks too near dry brush. And for someone else’s carelessness, hundreds and even thousands of people are put at risk of their homes and lives, not to mention the vast public expense needed to fight a blaze.

But what if they weren’t all the accidental products of carelessness, or even garden-variety arson? What if some were acts of holy war?

In the Washington Examiner, Mark Tapscott takes the recent Black Forest fire in Colorado as his jumping off point for a discussion of the dangers of “forest jihad:”

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld (1) of the New York-based American Center for Democracy’s Economic Warfare Institute warns that last July “al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called ‘It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,’ which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.

“A few months later, Russia’s security (FSB) chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov warned, ‘al-Qaeda was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe’ as part of the terrorists’ ‘strategy of a thousand cuts.’ Bortnikov spoke of ‘extremist sites [that] contained detailed instructions of waging the forest jihad and stressed that such a method had proved itself effective as it inflicted both physical and moral damage, needed little training or investment and it was extremely hard for police to find and apprehend the arsonists.’

“Since then, more fatwas advocating that ‘Fire is cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare’ have been issued. They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled ’ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.'”

And it’s not just in the US, as Tapscott points out. Not only has Russia suspected Muslim terrorists of setting forest fires in their country, but Australia, too, has been declared a target, while deadly fires in Western Europe aroused suspicions.

There’s little proof that any of these fires were acts of jihad, but the fact that al Qaeda and other Islamic supremacist groups have shown great interest in setting them should make us wary. The West has done tremendous damage to al Qaeda and its affiliates since 9/11/01, largely blunting their efforts to conduct more catastrophic terror attacks against us. But, they are nothing if not adaptable, and it only makes sense that they would look for other means to strike at us, the “infidels.”

RELATED: The National Interagency Fire Center has good info on current large wildfires. At the ICT in Israel, Colonel Jonathan Fighel has an important article on al Qaeda’s interest in forest jihad, while The Gatestone Institute published Soeren Kern’s piece explaining AQ’s “thousand cuts” strategy.

Footnote:
(1) Rachel Ehrenfeld also wrote “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed And How To Stop It,” a must-read work on the money networks behind international terrorism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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