USA — CHARLOTTE, September 23, 2013 Not long after Al Qaeda published a story in its online magazine, Inspire, about how to make pressure cooker bombs, the Boston Marathon became a victim of those devices.
Since that time Americas hopscotch media with its 24/7-be-the-first-to-report-a-story mentality has covered riots in Egypt, red lines in Syria, Paula Deans racism, Oprah Winfreys Switzerland trip, defunding Obamacare, shutting down the government for the 100th time and endless hours debating the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident.
Meanwhile, ever-vigilant global jihadists have been creating new and better ways of economic terrorism which may be less visible than flying planes into buildings or attacking malls in Kenya, but are far more cost-efficient and difficult to detect.
Inspire published another article in the spring of last year titled It is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb, describing techniques for building bombs that will set forests on fire.
In June of this year, a fire in the Black Forest of Colorado left more than 15,000 acres of timberland in charred ruins while 38,000 people were evacuated and nearly 400 homes were damaged or destroyed. Arson is the suspected culprit, though it is yet to be proven.
Recently, William (Bill) Scott, a senior fellow at the American Center for Democracy/Economic Warfare Institute (ACD/EWI) and also a victim of the Black Forest fires, issued dire warnings about the growing number of wildfires in the Western United States that have been the result of something other than natural causes.
Headed by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, an expert on terror finance and economic warfare, ACD/EWI is a non-profit organization that is among the best in the world at monitoring and exposing terrorist threats and methods. The group does not stop at merely discovering jihadist plans however, it also seeks practical methods to counter terrorist activity.
Islamic extremists thrive on monumental attacks such as the World Trade Center in 2001 because of their enormous visibility and global impact. However, such events are costly, require intricate planning and, due to logistics, have long gaps between attacks.
According to Scott, the beauty of using fire is that it is cheap, simple and effective. Though not as sexy as their elaborate counterparts, forest fires result in physical, emotional and economic damage with minimal training or investment. They are also difficult to trace which is a huge plus for organizations that prefer to work in the shadows.
Though fire terrorism is new to the United States, it already has a history in Europe and seems to be spreading. Writing in The Algemeiner, Dr. Ehrenfeld quoted Aleksandr Bortnikov, Russias security chief, as saying al-Qaeda was complicit in recent fires in Europe as part of the terrorists strategy of a thousand cuts.
Speaking at the August 29 Economic Warfare Super Panel, Bill Scott made a Fire Wars presentation in which he described Colorado as an arsonists dream-come-true, and the U.S. Forest Services worst nightmare.
Scott went on to present a frightening hypothetical. Consider this scenario: A hot day with humidity levels below 10 percent. High winds, blowing into a dead-end valley, toward a picture-perfect town on the shore of a large mountain lake. Also watching the weather, an Islamic jihadist decides, Todays the day. He takes off in a rented Cessna 172 and flies across the mouth of that valley, pitching lighted road flares from the airplane. In a matter of minutes, a wall of fire with flames topping 200 feet roars up that valley, trapping hundreds of tourists and citizens.
Such eventualities are easy to ignore. Some will claim the ACD/EWI and analysts like Dr.Ehrenfeld and Bill Scott are little more than conspiracy theorists. Then again, consider how many times recently we have been surprised by the initiative and creativeness of extremists with no scruples who wish only to eradicate those who do not think like themselves from the face of the earth.
Not that airport security isnt required, but all the metal detectors in the world will not stop an arsonist who is determined to strike. Complacency is no longer a luxury Americans or other democracy loving people can afford.
Says Scott, were in a new era, facing a perfect storm of unprecedented elements: Drought; tinder-dry beetle-kill trees blanketing millions of acres; a real-and-present terrorist threat; and a cash-strapped, dysfunctional federal land-management agency that has less than a dozen large air tankers to serve the entire nation.
Our enemies know us better than we know ourselves. While we spend our time hemming, hawing, debating and drawing red lines, those who would do us harm are taking action and creating new ways to destroy us from within. Forest fires today, something else tomorrow.
We need more organizations like ACD/EWI, and we should start relying heavily on their knowledge.