Nigerian Guerillas Attack Oil Industry, Kidnap 9 Foreigners
A Nigerian terrorist group kidnapped nine foreigners, including three Americans, in an attack on the country’s oil industry.
Nigerian militants began a string of attacks on the country’s oil industry on Saturday, abducting nine foreign workers, bombing a major tanker loading platform and sabotaging two pipelines.
Royal Dutch Shell suspended exports from the 380,000-barrel-a-day Forcados tanker terminal, and shut down the 115,000-barrel-a-day EA oilfield as a precaution. That cut 21 percent of the 2.4 million barrels of daily supply to world markets by Nigeria, the eighth-largest oil exporter.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said the attacks were a response to military air raids in Delta State earlier this week and would be followed by another wave of violence “on a grander scale.” “These hostages are human shields,” the militants said, calling on all oil workers to leave the delta. “Subsequent attacks on other installations will be drastic as we have no intentions of taking hostages.” The militants said they wanted more local control over the Niger Delta’s vast oil wealth and the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders, including a militia leader who is on trial for treason.
In military-style predawn raids, militants in speed boats stormed an offshore barge operated by the American oil services company Willbros and abducted nine workers — three Americans, one Briton, two Thais, two Egyptians and a Filipino.
John Robb has more on this. In a previous post, he predicted this sort of attack as the next logical step for global terrorists. He thinks it an excellent strategy with much more upside for the terrorists than large-scale attacks like 9/11.
The impact of these attacks, particularly if they are numerous (attracting copycats?) and spread out over an extended period of time will be severe. Given their lack of symbolic content (and the potential that they will be relatively anonymous), the moral benefit to US cohesion will be small. Initial outrage against the attackers will quickly turn against the government itself, with severe repercussions (particularly if the government’s response is crude and deemed ineffective). Globally, these attacks will put at risk the US position as a safe haven for investment and may result in a large outflow of capital as the market’s moral sentiment cracks.
I am afraid he’s right. Sabotage attacks like this are quite disruptive and yet unlikely to coalesce the degree of sustained anger that 9/11 did. This is particularly true given that they are more-or-less organic. MEND is not being directed by al Qaeda but they nonetheless providing synergy with each other’s goals.