WASHINGTON – Al-Qaida has a new way to bring its targets down: Attack the electrical grid systems that provide power.
No power means no communications, defenses or much of anything else.
Sources have confirmed that on June 9, al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which uses Yemen as a base, attacked there.
The attack, however, wasn’t on just a city, it was on the entire country.
Jihadists attacked power lines in the central province of Marib, and sources report they knocked out Yemen’s entire national power grid, leaving services such as gas stations without power.
The attack went after power lines connecting outlying regions to the capital, Sanaa, which is in the Jaham district of Marib province.
While technicians have begun to repair the power lines, the Yemeni military caught up with the jihadists, who were equipped not only with small arms, but also mortars and medium-caliber weapons.
The Yemeni Air Force also launched airstrikes targeting the AQAP fighters.
“This is the first case where a terrorist attack on the power grid has blacked out an entire nation,” said Peter Vincent Pry, who once was staff director of the congressionally mandated EMP commission, which determined the impact of an electromagnetic pulse event on the life-sustaining critical infrastructures in the United States that rely completely on the vulnerable national grid system.
Pry also is executive director of the congressional, advisory Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
The attack on Yemen’s national grid system brings to mind the attack two years ago by unknown assailants on the grid system in San Jose, California, in which 17 transformers were knocked out using AK-47 rounds hitting in a precise locations meant to cause seepage of the oil that keeps the transformers from burning up.
To this day, the attackers have not been found.
Pry was concerned that an attack knocking out a nation’s entire grid system has gone largely unreported.
“Maybe the liberal mainstream (media) is helping cover for (President Barack) Obama, who is already in deep trouble with ISIS carving a jihadist caliphate out of Syria and Iraq, while Taliban attacks are further destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear weapons state,” Pry said.
“Last thing Obama needs is news about U.S. ally Yemen being blacked out by al-Qaida,” he said. “Might detract somewhat from the theory that the biggest threat to America is climate change.”
Pry said the grid attack in Yemen “absolutely confirms that attacking electric grids – not just for a city but for an entire nation – is an al-Qaida weapon.”
In addition to the San Jose case, Pry referred to an attack last year by a Mexican drug cartel, the Knights of Templars, in which members blacked out an entire state, affecting some 420,000 people, to enable drug lords to go into towns and villages to execute those opposed to the drug trade in public squares.
Last year, Pry wrote in a report of the open source intelligence Langley Intelligence Group Network that the movement of al-Qaida and affiliates throughout the Middle East and North Africa appears to belie claims by the Obama administration that core of al-Qaida is so “decimated” it can no longer orchestrate major terrorist operations, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States.