OUR VIEW: Let’s find out who started fires (poll)

October 2, 2012
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We know that arsonists ignited dozens of forest fires in Colorado this past summer, but we don’t know who they were or why they did it.

“There is reason to believe the U.S. is under attack and the bad guys are waging fire wars right now,” said Colorado Springs resident William Scott, a former editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Scott spoke July 9 at an event sponsored by the American Center for Democracy, explaining that a growing body of evidence pointing to the possibility of Al Quada operatives setting fires.

“Perhaps the most simple form of economic warfare is wildland arson. That’s just setting fires to U.S. forests, grasslands. So for any terrorists determined to inflict significant damage with very little investment or risk, fire is an extremely high leverage weapon of mass effect,” Scott said.

The Gazette’s editorial board has also heard this concern from Springs resident James Foster, a retired officer for the Inspector General’s Office of the United States Army Forces Command.

WildfireToday.com reported on May 2, 2012, that al Qaeda “has called for Western Muslims to wage war within the United States, urging them to engage in lone wolf attacks, including setting forest fires.”

ABC News reported on May 2 that Inspire, al Qaeda’s English-language magazine, offered “detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America.” Inspire states: “It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb.”

We are not claiming any special knowledge of al Qaeda operatives starting the Waldo Canyon fire or any other wildfire in the United States. We also stress that the vast majority of western Muslims are upstanding citizens or residents of our country and have no connection with terror. An arsonist could just as likely be an angry American sociopath.

As Scott pointed out, ignition of a wild fire requires little risk or skill and must be tempting for anyone wanting to harm the United States. The cost of the Waldo Canyon fire alone is in the hundreds of millions.

The Forest Service owns 190 million acres of forestland, so it is impossible for authorities to monitor every inch.

Given the obvious interest some foreign interests have in harming and killing Americans — as most recently seen in attacks on our consulate in Libya — we ask that the Forest Service, the FBI and other relevant state, local and federal agencies take seriously the potential threat posed to our forests and wildlands by operatives who have been instructed to burn them.

That's our view, so what's yours? Please begin or contribute to a Facebook discussion below this article.

Friend editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen on Facebook, follow him on Twitter

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