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Friday
May042012

No alarm, but resolve over al Qaeda Montana fire threat

page from al Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine urging fire attacks in Montana(DARBY)- al Qaeda may have Montana’s extensive forests in its sights for a “firebomb” terrorist attack. But fire managers say the threat is something they’ve thought about for years… a threat they can counter by sharing information.

The threats come from al Qaeda’s online magazine “Inspire.” The threats are cold-blooded in their reasoning, but nothing new in a country where arsonists have started fires before.

al Qaeda’s article “It is for your freedom to ignite a firebomb”, notes how the 2000 fires “spread to a space equal to the size of London” burning houses and cars. And it uses those fires, and examples of huge wildfires in Australia as proof that wildfire could be used to spread more terror to advance the group's "Holy War."

The anonymous authors say they “mention such examples only to show the magnitude of the destructive impact that fires or firebombs make”, suggesting it would be possible to “cause a much bigger destructive impact” in a “shorter period of time. The report then goes into graphic detail on how to make and use a firebomb, giving advice on how to start various fires in the right weather conditions. 

The danger posed by a terrorist-caused wildfire has been raised by fire managers before. 6-years ago, Dick Mangan, then-president of the International Association of Wildland Fire wrote an article entitled "Terrorists in the Woods" warning that the Missoula area fit all the criteria for terrorists to use wildfire, and challenging fire managers to analyze their preparations for a possible attack.

And the group says this threat shows the need for fire agencies to be constantly working together.

“It does," says IAWF spokeswoman Paula Nelson. "And the technology we have out there from the old way of doing things like having lookouts stationed on mountain tops who are out looking for fire starts as well as aircraft going over, people who are mobile, good communication devices. It’s a whole spectrum. It’s keeping it safe.”

Nelson admits it is somewhat surprising to see her hometown mentioned in the al Qaeda publication.  

“Well it’s remarkable in a way and I think that folks in Darby, just as folks across Montana are always focused on fire preparedness."

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