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Oilpatch on alert over terror threat
Alberta's energy sector is on heightened alert after an al-Qaeda Internet posting called for terrorist strikes against Canadian oil and natural gas facilities to "choke the US economy." An online message, posted last Thursday by the al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula, declares "we should strike petroleum interests in all areas which supply the United States . . . like Canada," the largest exporter of oil and gas to the US. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Tuesday it was aware of the posting, as is Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. Alberta Energy and Utilities Board spokesman Darin Barter said oil and gas companies are on "heightened alert," but added the warning wasn't specific enough to warrant raising the threat level. "There was no evidence that pointed to any imminent or direct threat to Alberta infrastructure," he said. Although it declines to list specific sites, Alberta has designated some oilsands mines, power plants, refineries and pipelines among "critical infrastructure" as potential terrorist targets.
The threat comes from the same terrorist group, the Saudi arm of Osama bin Laden's network, that claimed responsibility for last February's attack on the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia's eastern province. The attack was foiled when guards at the site opened fire on the terrorists, blowing up their vehicles filled with explosives before they could get through the gates. In this latest message three western countries are mentioned in the call-to-arms -- Canada first, followed by Mexico and Venezuela. Would-be attackers are instructed to specifically target oilfields, pipelines, loading platforms and carriers. Greg Stringham, vp of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the threat is similar to a posting made about a year ago, when an al-Qaeda-affiliated Internet blog called on Canadian and US jihadists to attack an Alaskan oil pipeline. "We are taking it very seriously and making sure that people are aware and vigilant even, though we've been told there is no new threat or additional threat at this point in time," he said, "but every time Canada gets mentioned in this, it really does make sure that we are well-prepared."
(Calgary Herald 070214)