Al Qaeda Attack Hits Two Targets
A Saudi expert on al Qaeda says that the attack on the Saudi oil industry was directed at both the Saudi government and the US economy.
"Hurting the US economy is a longtime Al Qaeda goal and is one of the reasons the World Trade Center in New York was targeted. They're now striking these oil- related sites in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to keep oil prices high and hurt the US economy," says Saud al-Sarhan, a Saudi writer and researcher who follows Al Qaeda closely.
The price of oil rose to $42 per barrel today after this latest attack.
And as we noted earlier, al Qaeda is starting to recruit on the internet and using the leaderless resistance method of invoking terrorism to spread the violence beyond the known leaders.
In a statement on a militant website several weeks ago, the head of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia encouraged young men to join Al Qaeda's jihad, or holy war, against "the enemies of Islam" and said they did not need to get in direct touch with group members or get permission to carry out jihad. Those interested in jihad need only "create a cell that prepares itself and chooses targets approved by God and then carry out the operation," the statement by al-Miqrin says. Training tips on attacks could be found in some of the group's literature on the Web, he adds.
Al-Miqrin also praised the Yanbu attack. "The Yanbu cell which this month carried out the daring and successful operation is one of the best examples. They hit the enemy in an important economic facility which had a big effect on world oil prices which continues to this day."
Oil prices today reflect an 5-10 dollar premium to cover the fear that terrorism might disrupt the flow of oil. The Saudis are saying that they have improved their security around the oil industry infrastructure and that even if all foreigners leave Saudi Arabia, the industry will be able to carry on. Yet how effective has their security been?
Westerners in Khobar quoted in the media expressed particular concern that the attackers managed to enter a compound that was meant to be heavily guarded.
"What can expats do more than we're doing?" a US oil company employee told Reuters.
"Our security is in the hands of our companies. We all live in compounds and look at what happened."
Looking at how hard it is for the Iraqi oil industry to even get to 2 million barrels per day (under Saddam it was 3 mbpd) due to attacks on the pipelines, one wonders what would happen if the pipelines in Saudi Arabia were targeted.