Terrorist Forest Fires?
I caught a lot of flak a few months back when I speculated about why terrorists don’t carry out a wide array of simple but devastating terrorist plots. (For fear of another flood of hate mail, I don’t dare link to those earlier posts, but if you are interested you can easily find them.)
I’m pretty sure that forest fires would be a uniquely ineffective form of terrorism, but apparently setting fires was one of the scenarios that al Qaeda terrorists had considered.
From a terrorist’s perspective, there are some good points to the forest fire plot: it is incredibly easy, it only takes a few terrorists, it costs almost no money to carry out, and it imposes some non-trivial costs on the United States to fight the fires. On the other hand, it completely misses the main points of terrorism: to scare large numbers of people, and to disrupt everyday life. Almost nobody lives in areas likely to be affected by these fires. They would be an annoyance, but they likely wouldn’t evoke much terror.
(Hat tip: Pete Adams.)