* Now this is weird: here in Australia the MSM avoids the subject like the plague, but in the UK the press ran with the story. Yesterday FOX NEWS Â Â ran the story too. Here, Down Under, even the conservative blogger Andrew BoltÂ chickenedÂ out and banned any posting relating Muslims to the threats they made last year. Why not?Â
From the Bolt blog-post:Â Worse and worse
TheÂ Drudge ReportÂ has linked the fires to threats last year by a few hotheads on the web to set off bushfires for jihad. Already emails repeating this link are whizzing around the web. That is grossly irresponsible and unfair – the nastiest rabble rousing. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to identify the motivation of any of the arsonists behind these fires, and I seriously doubt any are Muslim. This kind of finger-pointing has no place in these times. This is a time to draw together, not to divide ourselves with baseless allegations. No comments repeating these insinuations will be published here.
Butt out, Bolt!
BS on the double! When Muslims openly threaten your country with forest fire jihad the alarm bells should go off. When shortly afterwards your forests are burning, a national catastrophe unfolds, 200 people perish in the flames, Â you do have every right to ask questions and to have your police and Â media investigate the threat. Muslims don’t need Â protection from scrutiny, we needÂ protectionÂ from them!
Butt out, Bolt!
Terrorism experts suspect Muslim extremists are watching the impact of the bushfires devastating Australia closely, it has emerged.
Australian authorities have said there is no evidence linking the arsonists believed to have started the fires – which have so far killed nearly 200 people – to Islamic extremism.
And although such extremism has fuelled conflict throughout south east Asia – such as the Bali bombings in 2002 – rarely has it reared its head in Australia itself.
* In other news:Â Al-Qaeda video threatens India of more Mumbai like attacks
“We will bring mujahideen and suicide attackers from all over the Muslim world to confront you (India). They will target your economic centers and raze them to the ground,” the Daily Times quoted Yazeed, as saying.
Bush fire: In desperate hope and fear, loved ones are filling a noticeboard with pleas for help to find their families in Melbourne
Hell on earth: A body lies at the side of the road in Marysville as Australia is devastated by fire
Arson, however, is not uncommon during the dry Australian summer.
Even so, experts told American media,Â the huge swath of destruction and the massive financial blow to the country are proving to Islamic terrorists that arson can be a highly effective – and simple – tool of holy war.
‘Forest fires track well with the latest discussion trends seen in Al Qaeda forums – easy to do, big impact, low security risk, high media coverage,’ Al Qaeda expert Jarret Brachman told Fox News today.
Brachman, author of ‘Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice’, said such ‘forest jihad’ slides neatly into Al Qaeda’s increasing desire to create ‘armies of one’.
”We’ve seen this kind of appeals for action, be it setting fire to forests in Australia, to creating oil slicks on mountain roads in Europe, to poisoning water supplies and driving buses off bridges in the United States.’
But other experts cautioned against the idea that extremists would seriously consider such tactics.
‘Could militants do this? Yes,’ Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, told Fox. ‘It wouldn’t be difficult.’
But, he added, the majority of terrorists are likely seeking ways to create the most destruction with the least amount of effort – and an inner-city bombing still appears the likely tactic.
Horror: It is hard to believe that there exist people twisted enough to spark deliberately fires which have claimed, so far, nearly two hundred lives
What could create fear, he said, is how little authorities could do to stop terrorists from launching such ‘forest jihad’.
‘It would be absolutely impossible to protect against,’ he said. ‘Airport parameters are hard enough to protect. Imagine trying to protect something 100,000 times as big.’
According to a recent study by the Australian Institute of Criminology, at least 50 per cent of the country’s annual 20,000 to 30,000 bushfires are either known or suspected to have been started deliberately.
Many fires, police and fire officials concede, have started through downright carelessness – people tossing burning cigarette butts from car windows or foolishly lighting fires to cook on when the countryside is blighted by drought.
But there are others who start fires for the thrill of it, say fire officials.
Fire-starters are usually male, often young and more likely than not to be poor.
The more dedicated adult fire-starter may even become a fireman in order to get a kick out of not only starting, but extinguishing a blaze.
As such, lighting fires is usually seen as just one sort of ‘normal’ low-grade antisocial behaviour – not religious extremism.
Australia does face the challenges of multi-culturalism. There are more than 400,000 Muslims among Australia’s population of 21 million, more than half of whom live in the Sydney area.
In 2005, anti-Muslim sentiment boiled over into riots in the Sydney beach suburb of Cronulla, when rioters targeted people of Middle Eastern appearance.
The Cambridge Review of International Affairs has documented the challenges Australia faces in coping with the emergence of an Islamic extremist threat in south-east Asia.Â
‘Australian policy makers are being drawn into unfamiliar linkages with moderate Islam, and into closer cooperation with Indonesia, the most populous Islamic nation in the world, in an attempt to offset Islamic extremists,’ the journal reported in 2003.
In November, 2008, comments on a jihadist website demanded just such a ‘forest jihad’ in Australia, Europe, Russia and the United States.
The posting, which quoted imprisoned Al Qaeda terrorist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, said setting forest fires was legal under ‘eye-for-an-eye’ Islamic law, arguing: ‘Scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels’ forests when they do the same to our lands.’
Neil Livingstone, chairman and CEO of Executive Action LLC, an international consulting firm, said terrorists could claim responsibility for the Australian inferno even if they had nothing to do with it – though he added that could ignite a ‘hell of a backlash’ against Muslims in Australia.