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Cal Fire Dismisses Al Qaeda’s Plot To Start Wildfires

— San Diego County last week saw tens of thousands of backcountry acres burn as a result of wildfires. Did Al Qaeda have anything to do with it?

Aired 8/20/12 on KPBS News.

Al Qaeda has schooled would-be terrorists in starting wildfires. But Cal Fire says their 'Ember Bomb' is no big deal.

This San Diego County wildfire was NOT started by a terrorist.
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Above: This San Diego County wildfire was NOT started by a terrorist.

Not as far as we know. But Cal Fire officials say there has been Internet chatter for several years, encouraging terrorists to set backcountry fires to target the American West.

Earlier this year, a publication called Insight that's linked to Al Qaeda, actually provided instructions to create a so-called "ember bomb" to start fires. Cal Fire's Julie Hutchinson said it caused enough concern that a state crew actually built an ember bomb, per Al Qaeda directions.

"We did test it," she said, "and we didn't find it to be much different from other devices that are out there, or other things that start fires."

In fact arson fires, terroristic or not, are a common cause of wildfires. Hutchinson said a bigger concern this year are the dry and hot conditions that have made 2012 so fire prone. This year California has had almost double the number of wildfires we saw at the same time last year.

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