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“Scorching Summer”


Al Qaeda has called upon its operatives and supporters to carry out fire attacks as part of its struggle against its enemies

While Israel awaits the State Comptroller’s report concerning the Mount Carmel fire, al Qaeda is threatening and preparing for a “forest jihad” – a modus operandi of Islamic terror organizations.

In the latest issue of al Qaeda’s English magazine in the Arabian Peninsula, “Inspire,” the organization calls on its operatives and supporters to set forests on fire as part of its struggle against enemies of Islam. The magazine, which emphasizes that forest fires are a permitted combat method in Islam, provides relevant quotes from the Koran as proof. The magazine also includes detailed explanations on how to prepare incendiary bombs to set forests ablaze.

This is not the first time that al Qaeda is calling for operatives to commit arson. In June 2003, a published FBI memo revealed that an al Qaeda operative arrested in the United States planned to cause a series of forest fires. Influenced by the tremendous damage caused by Australian forest fires, the operative planned a series of attacks in which terrorists were to plant bombs with delay mechanisms at several sites around the US. The operative claimed that the fires were meant to influence US public opinion and its ability to demand and change governmental policies.

In November 2007, a website affiliated with al Qaeda published a call for a “forest jihad” during summer. The publication listed the advantages of setting forests ablaze, including causing many casualties, damaging tourist locations, creating an absence of wood for industry, and creating difficulties for fire and rescue services. The publication also justified the acts from the perspective of Islamic law.

In October 2008, the British journal “Sunday Express” reported that al Qaeda had threatened to open a new environmental front in its anti-Western campaign. Western intelligence sources explained that they intercepted messages from the organization’s activists that threatened to ignite forest fires around the world in an effort to spread panic and hurt the West’s economy. One of the messages stated: “Imagine that, after all the damage is caused, if a jihad organization were to take responsibility for the forest fires. You can imagine the dread it would cause people in the US, Europe, Russia, and Australia.”

At the end of January 2012, an announcement was published on al Qaeda’s websites by an unknown group (known as Masadat Al-Mujahidin) that said it was “declaring war on America.” It should be noted that Masadat Al-Mujahidin is also the name of the group that took responsibility for setting forest fires in the state of Nevada in the US in January 2012.

Al Qaeda and Israeli Fires

On May 13 2012, internet websites associated with al Qaeda published news about instances of arson throughout Israel (in the Ashkelon, Haifa, and Umm El-Fahm areas) that were allegedly carried out by Masadat Al-Mujahidin Fi Palestine.

On the Al Handasat website, the group’s commander, known as Abu Amar Alansari, stated that the group was established in order to fulfill the Jihad obligation and recruit youths towards the fight against the Jews in Palestine.

However, this was not the first group that called for arson tactics against Israel. Palestinian terror organizations started carrying out arson attacks prior to the founding of al Qaeda in 1989. During the 1980s and 1990s, arson attacks constituted about a third of all the forest fires in Israel. The First Palestinian Intifada, which began in 1987, was one of the reasons behind the dramatic increase in the number of arson attacks, as it was a tactic used in the violent struggle against Israel. During the Al Aqsa Intifada (2000-2005) and afterwards, the use of arson attacks in general, and forest fires in particular, continued as part of the terror  groups’ modus operandi.

While the Carmel fire appears to be the result of negligence, various terror organizations, including Hezbollah, rushed to take responsibility for the fire and use it to broadcast Israel’s weakness.

At Al Handasat, it was claimed that the Carmel disaster was the result of arson carried out by Masadat Al-Mujahidin Fi Palestine. One Palestinian commentator on Israeli affairs even claimed on a websites that “the Carmel fire proved without a doubt that Israel cannot enter a war – not with Syria, not with Hezbollah, and not even with Hamas in Gaza.” He also posed questions to his audience about what Israel would do if Hezbollah missiles were to fall in the same place where the fire erupted. “Netanyahu would have called on the world to help him because of one fire. What would he do if many fires erupted in the next war?” he wrote.

In the Palestinian daily “Palestine,” which is identified with Hamas in Gaza, the columnist Mustafa A-Sawaf wrote: “This fire revealed a clear helplessness on Israel’s part in its internal arena in enduring a natural disaster. Such a disaster may occur at any time – whether from arson by a mentally disturbed person or due to a rocket, such as those fired at the Gaza Strip. Defeating Israel is a simple and possible matter. Israel is nothing more than a paper-country that cannot last against the resistance and against history. A single spark could set it on fire and there’s no need for a military balance or nuclear capability in order to wipe it off the map,” he wrote.

Forest fires represent a relatively cheap and efficient modus operandi that requires few resources. Locating an appropriate target and high temperatures with strong winds that can turn an arson attack into a national disaster are the basic requirements.

One problem arson attacks present to authorities is the difficulty in finding the perpetrator – a lone attacker, a local terror group, or a terror organization can cause it, and it is difficult to foil an attack in advance due to the ease in which it can be carried out. In recent decades, Palestinian terror organizations have carried out dozens of arson attacks and caused considerable ecologic and economic damage. The 2010 Carmel fire and its extensive media coverage, which revealed Israel’s weakness in dealing with the event, may serve as inspiration and as an incentive for terror organizations trying to exploit the hot summer.

While al Qaeda is not the first group to call for the use of forest fires as a means of terror, its extensive distribution of propaganda on Jihadi websites and the organization’s unique standing may encourage “forest jihad.”

In the past two years, Israel has taken considerable action to improve the challenges posed by forest fires. This includes establishing a firefighter squadron, which has already extinguished forest fires, as well as improving the coordination between security elements and rescue services needed during a fire.

Al Qaeda, as well as other terror organizations, will likely exploit the hot summer weather to their advantage. This possibility necessitates readiness on behalf of the intelligence organizations, so that they can find and foil planned attacks before they are implemented. It also requires deploying ground or air observation systems in high-risk areas to locate arson attempts as early as possible, and provide an updated situational picture to rescue and firefighter forces so that they can provide an optimal response.

Posted on 18 Jun 12 by Israel Defense

[Editor’s note: In doing a little research on this, I have found that there are fires in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Utah, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Nevada…I am not saying these fires have been started by terrorists, but there is that possibility, especially since that type of jihad has been plotted here in the US in 2003, and the western part of the US is under severe drought conditions, and the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s front groups, as well as it’s terrorist groups that the MB started, all want to take over America, and what better way to do that than by terrorizing the US until they give in? Once again, I’m not saying that these fires were started by terrorist operatives, all I am saying is that there is a big possibility that terrorists can do this, and the US has no real way to monitor this because the Obama administration wants to hid the actions of radical, Islam misunderstanders.]

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