Attacking Oil Installations

Posted: 18th January 2013 by Will McCants in Algeria, AQIM

To give some ideological context for the jihadi hostage-taking at the Algerian gas facility, readers might be interested in two jihadi documents on the permissibility and advisability of attacking oil installations. Such attacks are not universally popular in jihadi circles–even Bin Laden vacillated on this point–because they harm the local economy, which alienates the Muslim public. But some jihadis have argued that there are upsides as well.

One such jihadi is `Abd Allah b. Nasir al-Rashid, who wrote a fatwa explaining the benefits of attacking oil installations:

  •  It harms the infidels’ economy by raising oil prices.
  • Although this rise in oil prices is good for apostate Arab countries that produce oil, the rise in prices makes the infidels dislike those countries more.
  • States and companies have to dedicate more resources to protecting oil infrastructure.
Another is Abu Bakr Naji, who offers the following in his Management of Savagery:
  • Attacking an oil installation causes the local government to commit more resources to protecting oil infrastructure. That means there will be less financial and human resources available to guard against jihadi incursions into undergoverned spaces. (p.19)
  • It harms the American economy. (p.41)
  • Kidnapping an infidel working at the oil installation can be a great way to publicize your cause. (p.43)
It’s worth noting that both authors admit attacks on local oil infrastructure carry a significant risk of alienating Muslims; thus, the tactic should be used with care. Naji in particular explains what criticisms the jihadis will face and how they should blunt them.

  1. Mike Yared says:

    Also see http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/offshore-gas-and-oil-attacks/342
    A Chronology of Attacks on and Unlawful Interferences with, Offshore Oil and Gas Installations, 1975 – 2010

  2. [...] then ignored or cared not very much about. The rational behind the latest attacks is provided by Will McCants. in”attacking Oil Installations,” he analyzes two jihadi documents on the [...]