Analyst: Oil recedes as terrorist target

The drop in oil prices since mid-2008 has reduced the strategic effectiveness of attacks on oil and gas facilities by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, according to a consultant report.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 3 -- The drop in oil prices since mid-2008 has reduced the strategic effectiveness of attacks on oil and gas facilities by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, according to a consultant report.

"In the coming year, core al-Qaeda is…likely to focus on the military jihad in Afghanistan as the primary means of draining the US economy," said London-based Exclusive Analysis (EA) in its latest report.

However, while core al-Qaeda may be "unlikely to devote resources" to attacks on energy facilities, EA said jihadi groups in oil-producing countries are likely to remain "relatively constant" in their determination to conduct such attacks.

"These [jihadi] groups are motivated less by strategic considerations and more by tactical practicalities and a wish to destabilize the government of the country in which they are active," EA said.

EA said energy risks in Algeria "will be heightened by a new generation of Algerian jihadists inspired by al-Qaeda who are more likely to support suicide bombings."

In Iraq, EA said, decreasing jihadist influence "will not mean a decrease in energy attacks, which will continue to be used by a variety of groups with unresolved grievances, particularly in northern Iraq."

EA said that "despite relatively constant intent for energy attacks in Saudi Arabia, attacks are more likely over the border in Yemen," where exiled Saudi militants are "regrouping."

The EA analysis coincided with reports that Yemeni authorities last week arrested six suspected al-Qaeda militants who were planning a dozen attacks on oil installations, foreign targets, and tourists.

"Al-Qaeda's criminal plans [consisted of] 12 terror actions against oil installations, interests of friendly countries in Yemen and foreign tourists," the Yemeni interior ministry said.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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