DUBAI: A call by an extremist group linked to Al-Qaeda for wider attacks against US oil suppliers has forced Canada, Mexico and Venezuela to review security at oil installations.
“We’ve always said that Canada is not immune to threats. We take this threat seriously,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said on Wednesday following the call by the Saudi branch of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.A Mexican minister also called the threat “worrisome.”
The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula used an article in an online magazine to call for broader attacks on oil installations in countries in the Middle East and beyond that supply the United States.
“In the long term, the United States will not need the Middle East or it will reduce its dependency on it, and will be satisfied with oil from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela,” the statement said.
“Oil interests in all regions from which the United States benefits should be hit, not only in the Middle East,” the group said in the Sawt al-Jihad (the Voice of Jihad) article.
“The aim is to cut all its (US) imports (of oil) or reduce them by all means,” it said.“The targets among oil interests should include oil wells, export pipelines, loading platforms and tankers and all that could reduce US access to oil.”
“The instructions from sheikh Osama (bin Laden) concerning the targeting of oil interests are clear, so for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) to be able to implement these instructions, they should gather information and choose the target carefully,” it said.
Canada is already the biggest energy supplier to the United States. At an estimated 179 billion barrels, Canada’s Alberta oil sands rank second behind OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia in petroleum reserves.Greg Stringham, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in Calgary, the country’s energy headquarters, said oil companies were taking the threat “very seriously” but that alert levels in Canada remained low.
“It does not look like it’s something new, although we’re paying good attention to it and we have heightened the awareness among the folks that may be directly affected,” he told AFP.Mexico and Venezuela also said they were on watch after the report.
Mexico’s Tourism Minister Rodolfo Elizondo said the information was “worrisome... if it is confirmed.”“Everything that involves security has an impact on tourism,” he added.
In Venezuela, Interior Minister Pedro Carreno said security forces were at work to guarantee protection for the oil industry installations.“Venezuela has its intelligence units set to investigate to guarantee... strategic resources,” he said.Mexico is the world’s sixth largest oil producer and exports most of its crude to the neighbouring United States.
Al-Qaeda has made threats in the past to attack oil installations in the Gulf and specifically Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of bin Laden, which sits on a quarter of global oil reserves.