Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 3, 2009

LA fires: “Crime scene” investigated

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on September 3, 2009

Late yesterday Louis Sahagun filed the following with the Los Angeles Times:

Authorities have established a “crime scene” this afternoon around the area where the Station fire began last week. U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators cordoned off a charred hillside next to Angeles Crest Highway. Under a 20-foot-tall oak tree that had been scorched by fire, three investigators sifted through dirt and ash near mile marker 29, about 2 1/2 miles north of La Cañada Flintridge. Investigators declined to comment. The highway, California 2, remains closed to the public.

When I teach in California it doesn’t take long before the prospect of arson-as-terrorism is raised.  So far, arson-as-personal-titillation is more common.  But a purposeful “scorched-earth” strategy would be much easier than many other modes of terrorist attack carried out.

As far as I know, the only documented uses of arson as a modern terrorist technique is an Earth Liberation Front operation early in this decade and more recently in Seattle.  Do you know of other examples?

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 3, 2009 @ 5:53 am

How would you label Saddam Hussein’s burning of the Kuwaiti Oil Fields?

Comment by Nicholas Weaver

September 3, 2009 @ 7:32 am

There is actually a lot of ELF arson, or there was. There used to be a truely scary “How to commit arson” guide online that the ELF had written.

However, arson for broad terrorist activities would have a very different pattern than ELF’s targeted brand, and the station fire, as impressive as it is, would be a poor candidate.

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