COMMENTS: Target Oil

Next door in Saudi Arabia al-Ekhbaria TV distributed footage of the claimed break-up of a plot against the kingdom's oil infrastructure. In all 172 alleged militants were arrested organized in seven alleged cells. The video included weapons hidden in desert sand, bundles of cash and caches of plastique explosives. None of the networks had a correspondent on hand. CBS chose the plot as its lead, with Richard Roth narrating the video feed from London: "It was enough to make markets edgy." Financier Phil Flynn told him that a successful attack could drive the price of crude oil up to $100 per barrel.

ABC, too, filed from London. Jim Sciutto reported that Saudi authorities blame the idea for the oil plot on the instruction from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that aired last year on al-Jazeera TV--as if such an idea could never occur independently to homegrown militants. NBC assigned the story to its diplomatic correspondent Andrea Mitchell. She called the plot--without an "alleged" qualifier--"breathtaking in its scale and sophistication" including assassination of regime leaders, a jailbreak of imprisoned comrades and a hijacked jetliner attack on oil refineries.


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