Thanks Grace for this and the other Citizen article
Jamie Komarnicki, Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, October 18, 2008
CALGARY – Oil-and-gas rich Alberta has become a “prime location” for terrorists looking to capitalize on shaky economic times in Canada and the United States, terrorism experts said at a national conference for emergency officials in Calgary on Saturday.
“While Alberta might not be a first choice for mass-casualty attack terrorism – you’re unlikely to see a major bomb going off in downtown Edmonton – it certainly is a prime location for economic terrorism, because of the ability to disrupt the oil and gas industry,” Mercedes Stephenson, a Calgary-based defence and security analyst, told reporters.
Stephenson was speaking at a conference hosted for emergency first responders to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents.
Her remarks come as the security of energy infrastructure is under scrutiny after two B.C. pipeline explosions over the past week.
Stephenson said that, as the Canadian economy heads toward a slump, Alberta becomes an increasingly important revenue-driver.
Disrupting Canada’s massive energy industry would affect the rest of the economy, said Stephenson, and shake up consumer confidence and foreign policy decision-making.
Meanwhile, longtime international foes of the United States are closely watching that nation’s sharp economic decline, said Igor Shafhid, a world expert in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Financial instability causes panic and fear, said Shafhid, founder of Global Strategic Resources, which develops and teaches emergency-preparedness courses in the U.S. and Russia.
“Those (are) things terrorist states or countries will take advantage (of),” he said. “If it goes towards recession or depression in the United States, I suspect some activities might start happening in the next few years in the form of biological, radiological or who-knows-what-else terrorism.”
However, he said there’s no need to fear the world will be destroyed.
“They (terrorists) are in a waiting time right now,” he said, adding Canada is chiefly vulnerable as a staging ground for attacks on the U.S.
But Canada is also home to a slate of ideologically and religiously-driven groups actively trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and fundraising to send money to overseas groups, Stephenson said.
“I’m not sure that Canadians are fully aware that these guys are here, and the fact that we’re Canadian doesn’t make us an exception to being threatened by those individuals.”
Periods of calm can lead to a lull in threat awareness, she said. When bad economic times hit, it’s difficult to convince taxpayers to channel funds towards emergency and intelligence capabilities rather than social programs, she said.
“Times like these make us vulnerable, and it makes it a desirable time to hit economic markets, because you’ve got a better chance of driving them down and really bleeding the United States and Canada economically,” Stephenson said.