The photo above is from a video released by the IntelCenter on January 16th that shows Mohktar Belmokhtar, leader of the group that claims to have taken hostages at the gas facility in Algeria. Since I wrote the article, “Al-Qaeda took 41 hostages,” Algeria’s military launched a raid Thursday to free hostages held by militants at a remote natural-gas complex. They left hostages dead. Several governments and leaders are uncertain about the fate of their citizens.
I’m shocked the Wall Street Journal‘s article, Rescue Raid Turns Deadly,” reported an Obama administration official told the WSJ that they had urged “the Algerians to be cautious and strongly encouraged them to make the safety of the hostages their top priority.” (I think this is B.S. I am suspicious about the Obama administration’s claims.)
U.S. officials said Algeria didn’t give the White House warning before it launched the raid. The Prime Minister of the U.K., David Cameron, claimed he hadn’t been informed of the operation.
Even if Americans aren’t among the casualties, U.S. officials are worried the siege points to a new era of terrorist attacks on Western interests in energy-rich parts in regions of Africa.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the hostage crisis illustrated the growing threat of Islamic extremism in northern Africa and the need for the U.S. to coordinate closely with African and European countries to combat it. (According to the Rescue Raid Turns Deadly.)
U.S. officials said “the U.S. military had deployed an unmanned drone over the gas field but that the images captured by the drone didn’t provide a clear picture of the status of the hostages.” (WSJ)
The attack also highlighted worries over a geopolitical risk that could threaten oil and gas operations. The attack shut down production of In Amenas, a major field which, at full capacity, could produce nine billion cubic meters of gas a year and 50,000 to 60,000 barrels a day of liquids.
Oil prices rose $1.25 to close at $95.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday. Italian gas company Snam SpA SRG.MI -0.06% said Thursday it has registered a drop of more than 13% in imports of gas from a pipeline coming from Algeria since the attack early Wednesday.
Unfortunately, the Algerians are stubbornly insisting on acting alone. “Jean-Charles Brisard, a consultant specializing in terrorism,” said that, “Algeria has always condemned the payment of ransoms to terrorist groups, because that’s a boost to the kidnapping industry.”
Ww will continue to follow this story. Please add your comments below.
[Note from Larry–So glad Bronwyn put this up. I have a lot to write on this but won’t be able to do so until late on Friday. Bottomline? Obama’s policies in Egypt and Syria are helping fuel the resurgence of the Islamic extremists we call Al Qaeda.]