RealNews

Pro-Qaeda Oil Workers a Sabotage Risk for Saudis

The government of Saudi Arabia has increased security around its oil fields and processing centers after the discovery that employees of the state-owned oil company sympathetic to Al Qaeda were discussing sabotage plans late last summer, American and Saudi officials say. American intelligence officials discovered the conversations and alerted the Saudi authorities, who quickly arrested and interrogated the suspects, the officials added. The quiet thwarting of the potentially disastrous sabotage, disclosed in October by ABC News, is seen by officials here and in Washington as a model of cooperation for a relationship that has been under strain since the disclosure of the role of Saudis in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Still, the sabotage case and the response to it underscore the deep anxieties about the security of Saudi oil when a war with Iraq could make it more valuable, but also more vulnerable, than ever. Intelligence officials say the discovery of Qaeda sympathizers inside Saudi Aramco is part of a worrisome trend: Al Qaeda’s leadership appears to be increasingly focused on economic targets, especially the oil industry. Full Story

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