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Bin Laden Wanted to Hit Oil Tankers

Abbottabad documents show he wanted to spike oil prices
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2011 8:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – When Osama bin Laden wasn't maybe watching porn, he was apparently plotting his next devastating attack. Documents pulled from bin Laden's Abbottabad compound indicate that the terror leader next was planning to hijack oil tankers and blow them up at sea, reports the AP—an attempt he hoped would spike oil prices and shutter shipping lanes. US officials called the idea pie in the sky, but nevertheless quietly issued a warning Thursday to police and the energy industry.

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The idea of hitting the oil industry is nothing new, and experts are split on the impact of blowing up a tanker: A single ship holds enough oil to fuel the global supply for about a half-hour. But attacks on certain shipping chokepoints would "start closing down shipping lanes," says a former FBI agent. The low-tech plan appears to borrow a page from Somali pirates' success, and the cargo is so explosive that an errant cigarette can turn a ship into a fireball. Says a Middle East security expert: "The good thing is that boats don't move that fast. It gives you plenty of time to interdict." (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)

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