Monday, May 15, 2006

The Top Five Terrorist Targets

Al Qaeda has never kept it a secret about how much they want to harm the economies of their enemies. The economic angle, after all, was a major objective of the 9-11 operation. If Bin Laden's band of jihadists (or anyone else) could pull off an operation that inflicted significant damage to one or more of the following targets, the world economy would be in some serious trouble. At least that's the theory.

You may not have heard or thought of these critical targets, but rest assured, the enemy has:

1. The Abqaiq Oil Processing Complex, in eastern Saudi Arabia, processes up 6.8 million barrels of Saudi oil a day, and then pumps it out to ship loading facilities. Abqaiq is one of the best guarded sites in the world. An unsuccessful al Qaeda assault in February 2006 resulted in security being improved still further. If Abqaiq were put out of action, the al Saud family, and the Saudi economy, would be in great danger.

2. The Strait of Malacca, in my neck of the woods, is the narrow seaway providing the most direct route between the Pacific and Indian oceans. Some 20 percent of all world trade moves through these straits, aboard an average of 130 ships a day. There's lots of worrisome pirate activity in and around the Strait, and sea traffic is vulnerable to naval mines and being blocked by sunken ships in the shallower parts. If either happened, this would disrupt some traffic, at the very least. Near total shutdown of the Strait would cause economic disruption worldwide, and especially in East Asia. Shipping costs would go up and there would be lots of shipping delays. Ultimate economic costs would run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

3. The Druzhba Pipeline is, at 4,000 kilometers, the longest in the world. It travels through southern Russia, close to the volatile Caucasus region. The pipeline supplies Ukraine and points west, including Germany with crucial energy supplies. This pipeline moves 1.2 million barrels a day, and taking it out of service would cripple the economies it serves (major parts of Central and Eastern Europe).

4. The Straits of Hormuz are 34 kilometers wide, and each day 17 million barrels of oil pass through it aboard tankers. The Straits are vulnerable to Iranian anti-ship missiles (bought from China) and naval mines. Terrorists could also plant naval mines, which are available on the black market.

5. The Suez Canal is a smaller version of the Strait of Malacca, but is more vulnerable. At its narrowest point, it's only 300 meters wide. Sink one or more ships in the canal, and 1.3 million barrels of oil have to find a different route each day, as well as millions of tons of other cargo. Worse, the canal is a major portion of the Egyptian economy. Thus a canal shutdown could cause widespread political unrest in Egypt. And that's the last thing the Egyptians need right now.


hutchrun said...

One view is that the non-muslims have gone to sleep again `cos the terrorists seem to be losing their ability to create terror.
Could be that Islam is begining to die.

Pastorius said...

Good post, Anti-Jihadist.

friendlysaviour said...

anti-jihadist, can bet the usa navy has to do the lions share of keeping many of these waterways open, one way or another.
We just don't realise the importance of satellite surveillance and the jobs our Navies have to do every day.
I have read about the pirates in Malacca Straits.
Global trade is major economic force nowadays and any interruption would be serious.

hutchrun said...

May 16, 2006: In the last seven months, the U.S. Army has met or exceeded all of its recruiting goals. In that time, over 160,000 people have enlisted, or re-enlisted. The total strength of the active duty and reserve forces are 1.2 million men and women, all of them volunteers.

Always On Watch said...

Thanks for this information. I'm sending it to my American friend in Saudi.