Terror Attempt on Saudi Pipeline Thwarted

ByJohn McWerthy

W A S H I N G T O N, Oct. 14, 2002 -- As the blast on the Indonesian island of Bali raised fears of a resurgence of al Qaeda activity, ABCNEWS has learned of a major terrorist assault planned on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

According to U.S. and Saudi intelligence sources, a terror attack was planned on an oil pipeline that feeds Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura terminal, the biggest oil-loading point in the world's biggest oil exporter.

The attack was thwarted late last summer when several dozen Saudi citizens were arrested, according to intelligence sources.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, however, kept the existence of this plot a secret because of its potential to embarrass the Saudi government and its possible impact on oil prices, ABCNEWS has learned.

News about the planned attack on Ras Tanura came amid heightened fears that al Qaeda had plans to target "softer" targets — such as commercial shipping targets.

Yemeni authorities are investigating the possibility that anexplosion on the French tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen last week was set off by remotecontrol.

French investigators have found traces of TNT and pieces of asmall boat on the tanker, increasing the likelihood that the cause of the blast was a terror attack.

Following the attack, all tankers operating in the region have been put on alert.

Al Qaeda Persistence

In Kuwait today, U.S. military forces near a northern training area came under gunfire. Nobody was injured and the soldiers did not return fire, accordingto a U.S. Embassy statement.

Today's shooting came six days after two Kuwaiti assailants openedfire on U.S. Marines on a Kuwaiti island. One Marine was killed and another wounded before the assailants were shot dead.

The following day, a U.S. Army soldierfired a shot at a civilian vehicle overtaking a military Humvee.U.S. officials said the civilian vehicle's occupant had pointed agun.

Over the weekend, a car bomb ripped apart a nightclub packed with tourists on Bali, killing at least 180 people.

Speaking to reporters in Washington today, President Bush said the Limburg attack, the recent attacks on U.S. troops in Kuwait and the Bali explosion all point to the al Qaeda network.

"It does look like a pattern of attacks that the enemy, albeit on the run, is trying to once again frighten and kill freedom-loving people," said Bush. "This is a reminder of how dangerous the world can be if these al Qaeda are free to roam."

Al Qaeda is the terror organization that is believed to be responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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