Strait of Hormuz Attack Suggests New Threat From al Qaeda

By LARA SETRAKIAN

DUBAI, UAE, Aug. 6, 2010.

An explosion on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf last week has been determined to have been an act of terror, the United Arab Emirates said today, an ominous development that signals that al Qaeda may be threatening the oil industry’s most heavily traveled shipping lane.

AL QAEDA?S NEW STRIKE ON THE GLOBAL OIL SUPPLY

The explosion on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf last week was an act of terror, the UAE said on Friday. A government investigation determined that the Japanese vessel M. Star was likely hit by a small boat laden with homemade explosives. The blast injured one crewman and left a dent in the ship?s starboard side. Collapse

(IntelCenter)

An investigation by the UAE Coast Guard determined that the Japanese vessel M. Star was likely hit by a small boat laden with homemade explosives. The blast injured one crewman and left a dent in the ship’s starboard side.

The massive ship, which was carrying 270,000 tons of oil to Japan, continued its journey and wasn’t even sure it had been attacked.

This week an obscure Al Qaeda-linked group known as the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack and released a picture of the suicide attacker, according to IntelCenter, a private group that monitors terrorist activities.

The attack took place 11 miles off the coast of Oman in a narrow strip of water known as theStrait of Hormuz, an inlet leading in and out of the Persian Gulf that sees passage of 40 percent of the world’s shipped oil.

Security sources say the attack would be a huge step for Al Qaeda, showing a new way of striking the global oil supply and an ability to operate in one of the most heavily patrolled shipping lanes in the world.

"Al Qaeda has always targeted the oil industry and tried many times to blow up tankers and plants. This shows that they’re re-exploring this and seeing what they can do to attack global energy supplies," said Dr. Theodore Karasik, a security expert based in Dubai.

"This is going to call for a complete review of the entire security situation regarding oil and gas transit within the region…there needs to be a complete redrawing of plans," Karasik said.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, whose mandate includes maintaining security in the Persian Gulf waters, has not responded to ABC News requests for comment on the UAE’s findings.

Iran has long suggested it could strike on the Strait of Hormuz, using the threat as leverage against a Western or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. But it is in the interest of Iran and its neighboring Arab Gulf states to keep the oil trade flowing, bringing them billions of dollars a day.

The Strait of Hormuz is a choke point for almost all of the Gulf’s oil and gas trade. For Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and others, it’s the only way out.

Strait of Hormuz Is a Choke Point for World’s Oil Supply

"The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most heavily guarded in the world. The fact that they [the attackers] were able to get away with it shows that they did their homework," said Karasik.

"Now we have to do our research and put a remedy in place to shut them down."

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