Al Qaida and Oil

You don’t need to crash planes into buildings, plow speedboats into ships, or blow up embassies to land a devastating blow to this country. Al Qaida knows this and is gearing up for another major attack. This type of attack will economically cripple this country.

In 2006, Shaykh Abdullah bin Nasser al Rashid (aka Abdelaziz bin Rashid al Anzi) of al Qaida in Saudi Arabia released a religious ruling titled “The Laws of Targeting Petroleum-Related Interests.” In this ruling he states:

These days Allah has enabled us to expand the battlefields of Jihad…One of the areas our knights have focused their strikes on is the oil industry. This includes a variety of petroleum-related interests such as oil wells, oil production facilities, pipelines, and individual leaders in the industry. The Mujahideen have been making an effort to destroy such targets, and competing with one another in their drive to set these targets ablaze and bomb them…After all, oil is a vital resource that is fundamental to the economies of the industrialized infidel countries. Oil enabled America to dominate the world, after it succeeded in taking over the source of oil in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and other countries as well.

According to Shaykh Rashid, the three segments of the oil industry deemed acceptable to attack were production facilities, pipelines, and industry leaders. The rationale for the effectiveness of attacking these areas of the petroleum industry was also laid out by Shaykh Rashid. He states:

The following is a list that explains how damage is inflicted upon the infidels by attacks on oil facilities:

1) Rising oil prices: The countries that are hurt the most by rising oil prices are the industrialized superpowers. America – may Allah rid us of her soon – is the number one consumer of oil in the world. There are many reasons why jihad operations cause a rise in oil prices, and these include:

a) Fears of supply shortages that arise following operations. This happens because the very fact that an operation was carried out proves that similar attacks are possible. When countries and traders fear about supply constraints, they buy more oil, and thus prices go up.

b) Actual shortages that are a result of damage to pipelines, oil tankers, and oil wells, for example. Sometimes, these shortages come as a result of the heightened security measures…

c) Rising insurance costs…

d) …the fear of disruptions…

Shaykh Rashid goes on to list a litany of other reasons these attacks will lead to increasing costs:

  • “The cost of guarding petroleum facilities…”
  • “Expenditures for oil as a proportion of GNP”
  • “Increased allocation of funds for research on alternative energy sources”
  • “Damage to America’s economic reputation: This happens when her interests in oil producing countries are threatened.”

In essence, Shaykh Rashid laid out a very cogent argument to have AQ focus on targeting the oil industry in the Kingdom and elsewhere. This ruling has been taken very seriously by al Qaida. For example, in 2006 al Qaida attempted to attack Saudi Arabia’s largest refinery in Abqaiq near Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Two vehicles packed with explosives tried to break through the security perimeter at the facility but were killed before they could damage the facility. In the same year, simultaneous attacks on two Yemeni oil facilities were also thwarted. Al Qaida was the suspected culprit in these attacks as well.

More recently, an AFP news article shows that Saudi Arabia arrested over 700 suspected al Qaida members in the last six months on suspicion of plotting to attack oil industry installations in the Kingdom. Given the current state of affairs regarding oil prices, a successful attack by al Qaida on oil facilities anywhere in the world would have devastating impact on already record high oil prices. Al Qaida is concentrating on these targets and, as the Twin Towers will testify to, al Qaida will not stop until they successfully strike them.

These al Qaida activities should impact this country’s decisions in the upcoming US Presidential and Congressional elections. Who among our elected officials will best protect our vital national security interests, act to secure our energy sources, and act to eliminate the threat groups like al Qaida pose? If al Qaida can see with remarkable clarity what will happen if they attack these oil facilities, shouldn’t we expect the same from our elected officials? Will the new President and Congress move to better secure the petroleum we need or will they continue doddering down the same ambiguous path?

Carl von Clausewitz, a noted military strategist once stated, “[t]he aim of warfare is to disarm the enemy…you must either make him [the enemy] literally defenseless or at least put him in a position that makes this danger probable.” When Clausewitz wrote this, he was speaking about standard military engagements between nation states. In an ironic and modern twist, terrorist organizations are evidently using this concept to manipulate and attack the United States.

Senator Obama stated in one of his speeches that he did not want to “outsource” our diplomacy to other countries. I, for one, do not want to “outsource” protecting the very petroleum we need to function as a nation. Relying on the governments of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or other countries to secure our energy needs is a recipe for failure. It only takes a small mistake to allow al Qaida to successfully strike one of many oil facilities in the region. That leaves the US very vulnerable to the cascading economic effects (and al Qaida knows it).

To better secure the petroleum needed by this country we need to be in charge of the facilities that are being targeted. In other words, this country needs to follow the lead of the Governor of Alaska and drill for more oil in this country.

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