What's Al Qaeda Got To Do With The California Fires?

Is Al Qaeda to blame for the raging wildfires in California?

The possibility that more than 800 square miles of burned land could be traced back to terrorists was raised on Fox News last week. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy reported that “an FBI memo from late June of this year is popping up this morning and it is ominous.”


But the memo in question, warning law enforcement officials of a possible Al Qaeda plot to set wildfires in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming, actually dates back to 2003. Based on information obtained interrogating an Al Qaeda detainee, the memo makes clear that the claim could not be verified.

Slim proof. Still, Fox News and many blogs did not hesitate to speculate as to whether there could be a connection. What could be a better wake-up call than seeing multi-million dollar homes burned to the ground by Islamic radicals? And during Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, no less.

I can relate. I admit that I’m what you might call a one-issue voter. I firmly believe that the West’s likely decades-long struggle against radical Islam is the defining challenge of our time. As for the best way to defeat this ruthless enemy, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive around with an “Appeasement Is Not The Answer” bumper sticker on my car. I think that most Americans wouldn’t sleep at night if they were present at just one of the national security briefings President Bush attends every morning.

The fact that my loved ones and I are as likely as anyone else to become the next victims drives my preoccupation with terror. After all, Los Angeles, where I live, was the destination of three of the 9/11 planes. LAX was one of the targets of the 2000 millennium attack plots. I’ve waited on trains at the Atocha station in Madrid, the site of the March 11 bombings, too many times to count. (A subsequent plot to bomb the high-speed train my wife and I always take to get to her family’s town is another reminder of the jihadist dream to reconquer Spain.) My sister, who lives in Great Britain and works right next to the Tiger Tiger Night Club terrorists tried to bomb earlier this year, was riding the tube in London on the morning of the July 7 attacks.


As I see it, the threat of terrorism isn’t nearly as distant as my friends and neighbors make it out to be.

Sure, I can be a bore at times trying to get this point across. Conversations with relatives in Spain too often turn to politics; my sister usually hangs up on me when I tell her to read Londonistan. It seems sometimes that, as firmly as I believe, others just as firmly reject.

Which brings me back to the fevered musings concerning the California fires. Liberal blogs immediately criticized Fox for digging up the memo. The Raw Story claimed that the network was “fanning the terror fears.” And then there was this on the Daily Kos:

Just like proverbial boogey man of Myth, Fox News sees Al Qaeda under every rock . . . . And now, Al Qaeda has allegedly set the California Wildfires which have displaced nearly 1 Million people – at least that’s what Fox “Newsman” Steve Doocy thinks.

Point taken. But what’s worse: Exaggerating a potential threat or downplaying it?

Recall the Beltway Sniper attacks of 2002. As the death toll kept climbing, some wondered if the country was witnessing an Islamic-motivated killing spree. Others criticized the notion as anti-Islamic. We now know that John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were, in fact, on a jihad when they killed 10 people. But, on CNN’s fifth anniversary special on the attacks, there was no mention that the killers were motivated by Islam.

Meanwhile, succumbing to the same desire for a national wake-up call, many liberals blame all they can on global warming. At the Daily Kos, we have this post: “Global Warming did, however, contribute to the conditions for these fires and, well, could be said to be fanning their flames.” Harry Reid, who last I checked wasn’t a Kossack, expressed a similar view.


Looking back at the blame game last week, maybe it’s safe to say that Americans can be divided into two groups based on how they answer one question. What’s the bigger threat: global warming, or terrorists’ resolve to spread Islam across the globe?

I guess everyone has their apocalyptic fear – and a secret hope that something, anything, will wake people up to the threat.

Aaron Hanscom is a Los Angeles-based editor for Pajamas Media; his own blog is Scribblings.


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