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Homeland Security Warns of Terrorist Wildfire Attacks

June 2, 2012 in Featured

An image from the most recent issue of Inspire magazine, which is reportedly produced by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Several articles in the magazine advocate the use of wildfires as a terrorist tactic.

Public Intelligence

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and fusion centers around the country are warning that terrorists are interested in using fire as a weapon, particularly in the form of large-scale wildfires near densely populated areas.  A newly released DHS report states that for more than a decade “international terrorist groups and associated individuals have expressed interest in using fire as a tactic against the Homeland to cause economic loss, fear, resource depletion, and humanitarian hardship.”  The report notes that the tactical use of fire as a weapon is “inexpensive and requires limited technical expertise” and “materials needed to use fire as a weapon are common and easily obtainable, making pre-operational activities difficult to detect and plot disruption and apprehension challenging for law enforcement.”

Though law enforcement has been warning of the use of fire as a weapon for years, the recent fervor over wildfires as a potential terrorist tactic is largely due to Inspire magazine, a slick online publication that is reportedly produced by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  The most recent issue of Inspire featured multiple articles on the use of wildfire as a weapon in jihad, including a complete guide on creating an “ember bomb” that would likely have a “high failure rate when manufactured and utilized by untrained or inexperienced personnel” according to the DHS report.  The FBI has also separately warned about the latest issue of Inspire, which “instructs the audience to look for two necessary factors for a successful wildfire, which are dryness and high winds to help spread the fire. Specific fire conditions that are likely to spread fire quickly are Pinewood, crownfires (where the trees and branches are close together), and steep slope fires (fire spreads faster going up a slope).”  California and Montana are specifically listed in Inspire as potential targets.

How do you stop a person that wants to carry out a wildfire attack? The DHS report includes a list of potentially suspicious activities associated with the terrorist wildfire threat.  Are you conducting “unusual research” related to weather, dry seasons, winds, or types of forests and vegetation?  Have you done online research related to historical cases of arson?  Or maybe you “conduct reconnaissance” in “remote, wooded areas, especially at night”?  According to DHS, you might be a part of a terrorist plot to start wildfires all around the country.  Of course, you could just be interested in nature, studying for a criminology exam or lost in a rural area at night.  The report makes it clear that many of the suspicious activities listed are “constitutionally protected” and should not be considered alone as sufficient cause for investigation.  However, the list ends with an ominous warning: “Pre-operational activities of violent extremists in the Homeland might be difficult to detect. Agencies with local or state oversight should monitor events that might be linked to a larger terrorist operation. Suspicious activities should be reported and shared immediately.”

Posted on 2 Jun 12 by Public Intelligence

Here are some facts about how many fires are going currently, as well as how many throughout the year, all the way to 2003 when Al-Qaeda operative got caught plotting wild fires and got arrested. Since 2003, in the Western United States we have had 641,679 wild fire, and a vast number are suspicious…problem is that the FBI or the DHS seemed to have told their findings to the forest rangers, because when I talked to a Park Ranger investigator about terrorism as a possible means for the fire in my local area, she had said that she was not aware of the FBI/DHS findings and she would have never thought of the fire being a terrorist attack.

National Preparedness Level 1

Current hours for the National Fire Information Center are
(MST) 8:00 am – 4:30pm, Monday – Friday

This report will be updated Monday – Friday.

October 19, 2012

The 9 million mark was met today for acres burned year-to-date. The 2006 fire season remains the highest for acres burned at almost 9.4 million. Light fire activity continues throughout the US. Four new large fires were reported in California, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah. Currently, 11 large fires are active, 9 under suppression strategies and 2 managed for resource benefits.

Today is the last day for daily Incident Management Situation Reports (IMSR). The IMSR and National Fire News will be updated on Fridays unless significant activity occurs.

Weather: Fair conditions will continue throughout most of the West. Showers are predicted for the Pacific Northwest. Warm and breezy conditions will develop again over parts of southern and central California. In the East, a strong storm will push into the Great Lakes region bringing strong gusty winds to the northern and central Plains, the upper and mid-Mississippi valley and the Appalachians. Scattered rain and a few thunderstorms will develop across the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes region. Thunderstorms will form along a cold front stretching from the eastern Gulf to the Ohio Valley.

Daily statistics 10/19/12
Number of new large fires 4 States currently reporting large fires:
Number of active large fires
Total number includes full suppression and resource managed fires.
Total does not include individual fires within complexes.
11 Arizona (2)
California (1)
Colorado (1)
Minnesota (1)
Nebraska (1)
Nevada (1)
South Dakota (2)
Utah (1)
Wyoming (1)
Acres from active fires 77,002
Fires contained since 10/18/12 0
Year-to-date large fires contained 754
Year-to-date statistics
2012 (1/1/12 – 10/19/12) Fires: 50,651 Acres: 9,001,741
2011 (1/1/11 – 10/19/11) Fires: 63,856 Acres: 8,227,682
2010 (1/1/10 – 10/19/10) Fires: 61,367 Acres: 3,032,518
2009 (1/1/09 – 10/19/09) Fires: 72,641 Acres: 5,705,440
2008 (1/1/08 – 10/19/08) Fires: 58,453 Acres: 4,473,606
2007 (1/1/07 – 10/19/07) Fires: 76,285 Acres: 8,248,271
2006 (1/1/06 – 10/19/06) Fires: 85,964 Acres: 9,394,697
2005 (1/1/05 – 10/19/05) Fires: 55,407 Acres: 8,229,393
2004 (1/1/03 – 10/19/04) Fires: 62,576 Acres: 7,911,344
2003 (1/1/03 – 10/19/03) Fires: 54,479 Acres: 3,248,898
10-year average
2003-2012 Fires: 64,168 Acres: 6,747,359


Posted every day, Monday thru Friday by National Interagency Fire Center

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