Terrorists linked to al Qaeda who attacked a natural gas plant in Algeria last week relied on insiders at the facility as part of the plot, according to a report by an Algerian news outlet.
A report in Ennahar el-Djadid Online, based in Algiers, quoted Mokhtar Belmokhtar — who was identified as the “emir” of the Signed-in-Blood Battalion — as saying he used “former spies” who had been employed on short-term contracts from the British company BP in the attack on the facility.
The insiders worked as drivers, cooks and guards at the gas plant and provided intelligence on the entrances and exits as well as the residence complex, the guard system and details of buildings, the news outlet reported.
The Pentagon has said the attack, which killed some 37 hostages and 29 terrorists, appears to have been an operation of the group al Qaeda in the Ilsamic Maghreb (AQIM), the North African affiliate of the terrorist group.
“When it comes to terrorist attacks of this sort in North Africa, AQIM has to be at the top of the list of suspects, I’ll put it that way,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters Tuesday.
Anti-Brotherhood protest set
The protest is being organized by an informal coalition of opposition groups using Facebook and other social media to mobilize Egyptians for the action.
According to the protesters’ online postings, demonstrations planned for Thursday are expected to turn out thousands of Egyptians and may spark violence.
The groups opposing the current government include a pro-Egyptian military group and public employees who claim the Brotherhood’s radical policies are harming the economy.
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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