Apparently no one checked to make sure they were “moderates.” To have done so would have been “Islamophobic.” In any case, they would probably have been able to fool any such investigators easily.
Up to five of the al Qaeda-linked Islamists who carried out the most spectacular and bloody hostage in recent years were employees of the gas plant, security sources have revealed.
One of those involved in the “inside job” was of French nationality, the sources told the Daily Telegraph, in what appears to be a blow to those in charge of safety at the highly strategic In Amenas plant, which accounts for 12 per cent of Algeria’s gas production.
The unnamed French accomplice is said to have changed sides once his comrades in arms had broken into the desert site in southeastern Algeria after attacking bus at a false checkpoint. He then took part in the kidnapping operation before being killed during the Algerian army assault on the site.
Some terrorists are reported to have known internal procedures at the plant as well as the room numbers of expatriates.
Gendarmes are understood to have opened an investigation into four other workers who survived the attack on suspicion of helping the kidnappers enter the tightly-guarded facility, the sources said, without providing further details….
Last night, bomb squads were still combing the area for explosive devices, with the army saying the kidnappers had placed mines beneath the sand around the factory to hinder the army’s advance, but also inside the plant.
Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the Ain Amenas site along with BP and Norway’s Statoil, confirmed the entire refinery had been mined.
“They had decided to succeed in the operation as planned, to blow up the gas complex and kill all the hostages,” said communications minister Mohamed Said.
The revelation though of the possibility of an ‘inside job” follows expressions of surprise by security experts at the apparent ease with which the terrorists loyal to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist who formed his own brigade, the “Signatories in Blood”, penetrated the plant. It was the first successful terrorist attack against a petrol or gas plant in Algeria.
“These installations are highly protected. The operation must have been prepared over quite some time. Either there was a slip up or it was internal complicity,” said Louis Caprioli, adviser at GEOs, the risk management group and a former domestic intelligence agent.
A spokesman for BP refused to be drawn on the possible security beach: “We wouldn’t comment on this,” he said.
Last night it was confirmed that the apparent leader of the militants, Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, was ready at any time to blow up the hostages. Another of the kidnappers was identified as Abdallahi Ould Hmida….