Al Qaeda calls for attacks on oil facilities

A Saudi Arabian terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda has called for Muslims around the world to attack oil installations – including those in Canada, Venezuela, and Mexico – in order to stop the flow of oil to the United States.

NBC reports that the group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, posted the message on its online magazine Sawt al-Jihad, or Voice of the Holy War.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula said in its monthly magazine posted on an Islamic Web site that "cutting oil supplies to the United States, or at least curtailing it, would contribute to the ending of the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan." The group said it was making the statements as part of Osama bin Laden's declared policy. It was not possible to verify independently that the posting was from the terror faction.

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for last year's attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia and Yemen after bin Laden called on militants to stop the flow of oil to the West. The group also was behind the 2002 attack on a French oil tanker that killed one person in the Gulf of Aden.

NBC also reports that until 2004, Al Qaeda had refrained from calling for attacks on oil installations, seeing the money generated by oil as a boon to the Muslim world. But in a message he issued that year, Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden called for attacks in order to cripple the Western economy.

"One of the main causes for our enemies' gaining hegemony over our country is their stealing our oil; therefore, you should make every effort in your power to stop the greatest theft in history of the natural resources of both present and future generations, which is being carried out through collaboration between foreigners and [native] agents," bin Laden said. "Focus your operations on [oil production], especially in Iraq and the Gulf area, since this [lack of oil] will cause them to die off [on their own]."

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that in Canada, one of the countries mentioned on Al Qaeda's list of targets, the premier of Alberta – Canada's richest oil province – said security experts were aware of the threat and were monitoring the situation. But some Canadian oil producers feel the threat is very serious and that the group is "motivated to attack."

Greg Stringham, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told CanWest News that they too are taking the threat seriously.

"It's not the first time that it's happened and we have no credible threat to substantiate it, but still, we are taking it seriously and we've informed all of our members and contacts about that – especially those with critical infrastructure — to pay extra attention and be vigilant."

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Department of Homeland Security dismissed the threat saying it had no proof that the group was planning any kind of an attack in Mexico. And while some there are taking the threat seriously, others were openly scoffing at it.

"It would have much more force if it came from one of Osama bin Laden's allies" instead of an unknown writer, said Gabriel Guerra, an international policy analyst. "Pemex [Mexico's national oil company] has much more important things to worry about."

Canada's National Post reports that other experts also believe the threat is minimal at this particular time, but could portend trouble down the road.

Tom Quiggan, a senior fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, cautioned yesterday: "We should not be overly concerned at this exact moment. Al-Qaeda is an organization has been severely weakened."

Even so, "Sawt al-Jihad has correctly analysed the oil-importing situation of the United States and concluded that it is not just Middle Eastern suppliers that are important," he said. The posting appears to be "intended to send a message to its followers that they should consider a wider set of targets than just those in the Middle East."

Agence France-Presse reports that world oil markets "shrugged off" the threatened Al Qaeda attack. Oil continued to hover around $60 a barrel.

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