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When an article in a terrorist propaganda magazine outlined a method for starting forest fires with an “ember bomb,” officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection decided to test the method. But the bomb is “highly impractical,” according to a memo leaked from the California State Threat Assessment Center.
The English-language online magazine, called Inspire, has been published since June 2010 and encourages its readers to commit acts of violence against the West. Articles include calls to action and recipes for makeshift devices like the ember bomb, which is intended to start wildfires and create chaos throughout the U.S., according to the publication.
The incendiary device includes a mixture of gasoline and Styrofoam, a timer and battery. While the device does work, officials experienced difficulty igniting the bomb when following the outlined instructions.
“The ‘Ember Bomb’ device is an effective heat source and will ignite vegetation,” the memo stated. “However, we judge it is highly impractical based on the amount of energy and time it takes to construct the device, and the amount of physical evidence that will likely remain following its use. Throughout the nearly 12 minute burn, the device remained only a localized heat source (i.e., did not produce any embers to ignite other fires), and because of this, there appears to be little practicality associated with employing this method versus others that would likely leave far less physical evidence, such as manually starting a burn with a cigarette lighter (though we do acknowledge this method lacks the time delay component of the ‘Ember Bomb’).”
The magazine’s May edition suggested that Montana is a good place to ignite such a device. “In America, there are more houses built in the [countryside] than in the cities,” the article said, reported ABC News. “It is difficult to choose a better place [than] in the valleys of Montana.” Exactly why the writer decided Montana was an ideal location is unclear.
While many cite the magazine as a prime example of al-Qaida-funded propaganda, others downplay its significance and some, like Associate Editor Max Fisher of The Atlantic, wrote that the publication is likely a hoax.
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