WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate John McCain warned on Monday that Al-Qaeda could trigger a major US economic crisis with just one successful attack on a Middle Eastern oil installation. The Arizona senator argued that terror groups understood America’s reliance on foreign oil — and did not believe it had the will to find alternative energy sources.

“Al-Qaeda plans for attacks on oil facilities in the Middle East to destroy the American economy,” McCain said, in prepared remarks released by his campaign ahead of a speech in South Carolina.

“We’re one successful attack away from an economic crisis,” McCain said, adding that US enemies knew the damage a disruption of supplies would wreak on the US economy.

Full article here. One of my campaign principles, incidentally, is that energy independence “must be the core initiative underlying our future foreign policy.”  I’m just sayin’ …


After making a surprise appearance in Sydney, Australia at the Pacific Rim summit, Osama bin Laden is apparently extending his comeback bid with the release of a new video on September 11:

CAIRO, Egypt – Osama bin Laden will appear in a new video addressing the American people about the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, news reports and terror-monitoring groups said yesterday.

“Soon, with the permission of God, a new visual tape, the Sheikh, the Lion, Osama bin Laden. May God protect him,” reported that an al-Qaeda Internet announcement said.

ABC cited federal law enforcement authorities saying that another Web site had posted a message on Sept. 2, promising “a special gift to be delivered on the blessed day of the invasion of Manhattan.”

SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi communications, said the Internet announcement of the plan included a photo of the al-Qaeda leader from the upcoming video. His beard, which in previous messages had been streaked with gray, was entirely dark.

Full article here.  It is, of course, typical for an aging celeb to dye his hair when returning to the public eye, but he had to know we’d call him on it.

No word yet on the official release date for the Britney Spears comeback video, but I hear she’s also dying her hair.

Saudi Arabia has significantly reduced the powers of its absolute monarchy by quietly removing the king’s authority to choose his own successor.

This landmark constitutional reform, enacted by royal order last October but only disclosed this week, fundamentally changes the way the desert kingdom – which controls 25 per cent of the world’s oil – is governed.

Until now, the king alone has selected his successor, known as the crown prince, from among the sons and grandsons of King Abdul-Aziz, the founding leader of Saudi Arabia, better known as Ibn Saud.

In future, a committee consisting of senior members of the royal family, called the Bay’ah Council, will vote for the crown prince from three candidates named by the king.

The council is empowered to reject the king’s choice and can even impose a crown prince against the monarch’s will. It can also declare the king or crown prince incapable of ruling.

“What makes this change important is that, in addition to taking the final decision about who rules out of the king’s hands and institutionalising it, it brings stability to the succession process,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to London and Washington.

… Under the new system, Prince Turki himself, who was Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief before his ambassadorial appointments, is a credible candidate for crown prince.

Full article here.

While he was intelligence chief in the 1980s, Prince Turki reportedly met with Osama bin Laden several times, lending personal support to bin Laden’s war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. To be fair, however, we were supporting bin Laden back then, too. Prince Turki subsequently denounced bin Laden.

[Congressman Silvestre] Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East. We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

Full piece by Congressional Quarterly National Security editor Jeff Stein, here.

SAUDI ARABIA is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street intervenes to block an investigation into a £60m “slush fund” allegedly set up for some members of its royal family. A senior Saudi diplomat in London has delivered an ultimatum to Tony Blair that unless the inquiry into an allegedly corrupt defence deal is dropped, diplomatic links between Britain and Saudi Arabia will be severed, a defence source has disclosed.

The Saudis, key allies in the Middle East, have also threatened to cut intelligence co-operation with Britain over Al-Qaeda.

They have repeated their threat that they will terminate payments on a defence contract that could be worth £40 billion and safeguard at least 10,000 British jobs.

The Saudis are furious about the criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into allegations that BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence company, set up the “slush fund” to support the extravagant lifestyle of members of the Saudi royal family.

Full article here.

Via Reuters:

RIYADH, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was taking measures to protect its oil and economic installations from a “terrorist threat.”

Western naval forces in the Gulf have been deployed to counter a possible seaborne threat to Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura oil terminal.

“The terrorist threat to the kingdom’s economic installation exists and it is a declared goal of the straying faction to affect the interests of the Saudi citizen,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

“Saudi security forces are cooperating and coordinating with the Saudi navy to take the necessary security measures,” he told Reuters.

Meanwhile, from London:

Oil prices rose slightly Friday amid fears of terror attack on the Gulf oil terminals.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, climbed 39 cents to close at 60.75 dollars a barrel.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for December delivery rose 31 cents to settle at 61.08 dollars a barrel.

Full article here.

We wonder if Tourette’s Syndrome could be a root cause here: 

(CNN) — Calling President Bush “the murderer and spiller of Muslim blood,” al Qaeda’s top deputy released a videotape Friday accusing the U.S. president of being a “deceitful charlatan” who has lied to the American people.

Ayman al-Zawahiri also blasts the Bush administration for holding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged 9/11 conspirator, in a secret prison and alleging that Mohammed gave interrogators “valuable information which has helped the crusaders to kill and arrest a number of al Qaeda.”

“I ask this lying failure, who are the leaders of al Qaeda whose killing or capture was facilitated by the information extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?” al-Zawahiri asks. “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, may Allah free him, has hurt you thousands of times more than you have hurt him.”

On another portion of the tape, which appears to have been recorded at a different time and location, the terror leader addresses recent controversial remarks by Pope Benedict XVI and the situation in Darfur, Sudan.

Notably missing from al-Zawahiri’s remarks is any mention of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who has been the subject of unconfirmed reports that he is dead or ill.

Full article here.

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