Rumours are circulating social media that claim the California wildfires that have devastated large parts of the state in October 2017 were started by an Iranian Muslim who was in the country illegally.
The rumours appear to have started when an article published on the website FreedumJunkshun.com appeared online along with the headline BREAKING: Illegal Muslim From Iran Arrested For Starting California Wildfire. That article blamed the fires on a man name Muhammad Islam, a 23 year old who originally entered the United States on a tourist visa. That article reads in part –
BREAKING: Illegal Muslim From Iran Arrested For Starting California Wildfire
The California wildfires devastated the northern part of the state. Police initially arrested one suspect but released him after an investigation was conducted because the investigation led them to the actual person responsible for the fires: a 23-year-old man named Muhammad Islam.
Islam was born in Tehran, Iran and came to the United States in 2015 on a student visa, which expired when he dropped out of Dartmouth in November 2016. Fox News reported Thursday:
It is unclear what he has been doing since last November. Islam has no social media presence, no phones in his name, no known addresses, and no known aliases.
“It’s like he’s a ghost,” a source at the California FBI told Fox. “The Obama administration just lost him.”
So far, Islam is being uncooperative with the FBI, refusing to answer questions.
According to law enforcement, he was seen exiting a wooded area along California’s Interstate 42. Investigators found a can of gasoline and a blowtorch discarded near the spot where witnesses and photographs place Islam. Fingerprints on the gas can match Islam’s.
A quick examination reveals that the story is entirely bogus. In fact, the website that published this article – FreedumJunkshun.com – is a known fake news site, and none of the facts in the article add up. For one, the picture apparently depicting Muhammad Islam is actually of a Palestinian terrorist named Omar al-Abed, who killed 3 Israelis earlier in the year.
It’s quite unlikely he started these fires, namely because the most recent reports we could find is he’s sitting in an Israeli prison somewhere with presumably little chance of ever being released.
What’s more, the website FreedumJunkshun.com even acknowledges that it promotes nonsense, via their disclaimer at the bottom of each page within the footer –
We believe that there is nothing more precious than the mind of an aging conservative. Here we gather a boatload of bullhonkey, works of pure satirical fiction, to give the fist-shakers of the world a reason to hate. Reality is often in the eye of the beholder. You won’t find any of it here.
The site is part of a larger network of fake sites that include others such as AsAmericanAsApplePie.org and TheLastLineOfDefense.org.
The story has been copied and pasted to other fake news sites that may not carry disclaimers. As such, we do not recommend spreading this story. At the time of writing, the causes of these wildfires is still be investigated but many believe it is a combination of worsening fire weather and faulty power line equipment.