Greenpeace unaware of al-Qaeda's role in forest fires in EU

Greenpeace, a leading international environment protection organization, has no information that would confirm the Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) claim that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda is behind forest fires in European Union countries.

FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said at a conference of heads of security services and law enforcement agencies from foreign countries and international organizations in Moscow on Wednesday that al-Qaeda was pursuing a strategy of 'a thousand cuts' and was behind forest fires in EU countries.

"I do not really believe that the fires have been prompted by terrorist activities. We do not have any reasons to presume that the forest fires in Europe this year were caused by deliberate arson," Greenpeace Program Director for Russia Ivan Blokov said on Wednesday.

"Both in the European Union and in Russia, fires are usually caused by human activities. There are not more than 5 to 10 percent of natural fires. Such human activities include a thrown cigarette butt, or an unattended campfire, or a bottle with some liquid. This is negligence and disregard for some obvious rules," he said.

Both in Russia and Europe, most forest fires occur around roads, he said.

In commenting on Bortnikov's statement, Blokov said, "I would not venture analyze the political or intelligence part of this statement. But on the whole, the number of such fires and the forested areas covered by fires are much smaller in the European Union than in Russia, where nobody talks about any arson," he said.

Forest protection and fire services in European Union countries are organized much better than in Russia, he said.

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