Friday :: Feb 24, 2006

Biting The Hand That Fed Them

by pessimist

I hope the al-Sauds are happy with themselves, for their zealous desire to expand the influence of Wahhabism through their early (if not ongoing) funding of al-Qaeda has come back to bite them in a very sensitive place:

Two Saudi security officers were killed in attempted car bomb attacks targeting an oil refinery in eastern Saudi Arabia, the pan-Arab al-Arabiya channel reported on Friday. "The explosion did not cause any damage to any plant," the Saudi-owned channel quoted an unidentified Saudi Aramco official as saying.

I recommend that they pull Frankenstein off the shelf and re-read it.

Though the use of Aramco cars -- probably to get close enough to the facility to attack without attracting undue attention -- shows a certain degree of planning, the actual attack appears to have been poorly executed. It occurred in the middle of the day, though a nighttime attack would have more likely caught defenders off guard. Also, reports that the cars were burned out rather than vaporized by explosions seem to indicate that the vehicles carried insufficient explosives to cause significant damage to the sprawling Ablockquoteaiq facility.
[T]he Saudis might have been effective in their campaign against al Qaeda on the peninsula, but have not eliminated it.
Saudi authorities have brought under control a fire at a pipeline following a blast at an oil facility in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province on Friday, Al Arabiya television said. The Saudi-owned channel quoted security sources as saying only one unit at the oil facility, which includes processing and pumping stations that send oil to major Saudi export terminals, had been damaged but did not say which one. Saudi oil officials were not immediately available for comment.

The al-Qaeda terror group has long called for attacks on Saudi oil installations, accusing the country's government of selling oil to the West at cheap prices. The group is run by the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden who seeks to topple the Saudi monarchy and replace it with an Islamic state.

The concentration of oil processing at Ablockquoteaiq, about 25 miles inland from the Gulf coast, makes it a priority target for anyone seeking to cripple the Saudi oil industry. Without it, the kingdom would be unable to export much of its crude, which now amounts to about 11 percent of global consumption.

A former CIA specialist on the Middle East, Robert Baer, described the complex as "the most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system." A moderate to severe attack on Ablockquoteaiq would slow production "from an average of 6.8 million barrels a day to one million barrels," a loss equivalent to one-third of the daily consumption of crude oil in the United States, Baer wrote in The Atlantic Monthly in May 2003.

This attack isn't going to be the end of Al Qaeda efforts to harm the US through damage to the Saudi oil facilities. they will learn from the errors of this operation - and will at some point make successful attacks.

I hope the Sauds have nice bank accounts in Switzerland. They are going to need them.

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