DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi wing of al Qaeda called for attacks on suppliers of oil to the United States around the world, saying targets should not be limited to the Middle East and listing Canada, Venezuela and Mexico as under threat.
The threat appeared in the al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula’s e-magazine, Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Holy War), which was posted on a Web site used by Islamist militants.
“It is necessary to hit oil interests in all regions which serve the United States, not just in the Middle East. The goal is to cut its supplies or reduce them through any means,” it said.
The group was behind a failed February 2006 attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant, the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia.
“Targeting oil interests includes production wells, export pipelines, oil terminals and tankers and that can reduce U.S. oil inventory, forcing it to take decisions it has been avoiding for a long time and confuse and strangle its economy,” it said.
Officials and regulators in Canada’s oil and gas sector said they were taking the threat seriously but had not raised security levels.
“We’ve always said that we’re not immune to possibilities of terrorism,” Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said.
Canada is the biggest exporter of crude oil to the United States, followed by Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Mexico said its crude oil installations were safe and there was no immediate plan to step up security. President Felipe Calderon’s office said it was evaluating the threat.
The country, which ships about 1.4 million barrels a day of crude to the United States, tightened security around its Gulf of Mexico oil rigs in 2005 in line with international norms, a spokeswoman at state-run oil monopoly Pemex said.
Venezuela said it was prepared to investigate the threat.
“The Venezuelan state’s intelligence apparatus is ready to launch any investigation in order to guarantee the operation of our strategic resources ... with a view to ensuring any early warning,” Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno told reporters.
The militant group also vowed new attacks in Saudi Arabia.
“For some time now, we have been preparing some quality attacks which will shake the foundations of the crusaders (Westerners) in the Arabian Peninsula,” said the magazine, reappearing after a nearly two-year absence following a Saudi clampdown.
“And we tell our leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden that we are proceeding on the road (of Jihad) ... your soldiers in the Arabian Peninsula are working to prepare for what would please you and the believers,” the magazine said in another article.
The issue, dedicated to the theme “Bin Laden and the Oil Weapon,” also carried operational details of the attack on the Abqaiq facility and an interview with a militant who said he had taken part in the raid.
Al Qaeda leaders have repeatedly called for attacks on oil installations to block supplies to punish the West for what they see as a U.S.-led war against Islam.
In 2003, al Qaeda militants launched a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-allied Saudi royal family with suicide attacks on compounds housing Westerners and on government buildings.
Additional reporting by Jeffrey Jones, David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer in Canada, Saul Hudson in Caracas and Catherine Bremer in Mexico City