Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report warning major utilities and critical infrastructure operators, such as chemical plants and oil refineries, that “violent extremists” have obtained insider positions and might use those positions to conduct physical and cyber attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda.
Though DHS has said that it does not have credible intelligence of any specific threats against U.S. sites, the report indicates that violent extremists have tried to "solicit" employees in the utility, energy and chemical sectors, and have already been able to make inroads within some facilities. As evidence of American vulnerability, the report cites the arrest of an American last year who had successfully passed federal background checks and worked at five different nuclear power plants after being recruited by Al Qaeda. To deter these insider threats from materializing, DHS has said that it will continue to work with its partners in the utility and critical infrastructure sector, as well as officials at the state and local levels to protect American facilities.
DHS also emphasized its confidence in the intelligence based on the reliability of previous reports. Though no connection has been made with the documents gathered at the raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound, the substantial amount of intel gathered recently deserves careful attention of the chemical industry and should encourage us to stay vigilant in our security measures.
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