Saudis Foil Terrorist Attack on Oil Facility

The Saudis have thwarted a suicide car bomber’s attempt to destroy a major oil facility, BBC reports.

Saudi security forces have foiled an apparent suicide car bomb attack on a major oil production facility in the eastern town of Abqaiq. Guards opened fire on at least two cars carrying explosives as they tried to ram the gates, Saudi officials said.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the attack is the first direct assault on Saudi oil production. The al-Qaeda network on the Arabian Peninsula has long called for attacks on Saudi oil installations. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi said output at the facility, which handles about two-thirds of the country’s oil production, was unaffected by the attack.

That this attempt was foiled in excellent news. I fear, however, that it is only a matter of time before one succeeds.

Update: Andrew Cochran has a linked-filled post noting that this “nightmare scenario” has been predicted by many experts.

Steve Clemons , reacting to the initial news report, writes,

[I]f Shia-Sunni tension is boiling over into Saudi Arabia despite King Abdullah’s recent efforts to reach out to Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority and his personally hosting Muqtada al-Sadr during January’s Haj, we will have an even more catastrophic mess in the Middle East in which America has sigificant complicity.

My strong guess–and it’s based on no more evidence than Clemons has–is that this is al Qaeda, which has long hated the Saudi royals and threatened the oil fields, and has nothing to do with current events in Iraq.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    That this attempt was foiled in excellent news. I fear, however, that it is only a matter of time before one succeeds.

    There are probably British bookies offering odds on when & where.

    O/t, since you’re so relaxed with the UAE-ports issue, here’s what systems analyst Julia Saraidaradis thinks:

    Why not? Some of those al-Qaeda people have probably done much more research on our ports than anybody else.

    We may confidently predict that in a few years, Condi Rice will be testifying that it was “unforeseeable” that outsourcing national security to a UAE-owned corporation would contribute to any attacks.

  2. Anderson says:

    Well, let me just take over this comment thread:

    this is al Qaeda, which has long hated the Saudi royals and threatened the oil fields, and has nothing to do with current events in Iraq.

    You’re not implying a connection between those clauses, are you?

    Al-Qaeda is happily active in post-invasion Iraq, and has been in an excellent position to exploit Sunni discontent. So if it is al-Qaeda (plausible), that doesn’t mean no connection to “current events in Iraq.” Perhaps the contrary. Iraq has strengthened al-Qaeda again, after the severe impact of the Afghan invasion.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Actually, almost everything I read says al Qaeda proper is severely weakened. It is Zarquawi’s offshoot–which is almost certainly hurting AQ on the Arab street–that has grown.

    At any rate, by “current events” I mean the reaction to the shrine attacks and the resulting sectarian violence. I thought that was what Clemons was implying.

  4. Gunshots, Bomb Attack at Major Oil Facility…

    It’s nice when suicide bombers succeed only in the suicide part….