A possible terrorist assault on a California power station last April, which got little publicity, was a very serious breach that reveals how vulnerable the nation is, counterterrorism experts say.
“This is very serious . . . This was a trial run for a terrorist attack,” said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and FBI agent who is now chief analyst for the global intelligence forecaster LIGNET.
“We now have something called a smart grid system, where our electric grid is linked to other grids over the Internet and by computers, and a major attack on one part of the grid could cause a devastating outage that could put tens of millions of Americans in the dark,” Fleitz told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
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A Wall Street Journal report this week that a sniper attack had knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose is raising fears that the country’s power grid is vulnerable to terrorism.
Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack.
“The FBI is still not prepared to say that this was a terrorist attack even though this power station was attacked with AK47s and there was a systematic plan to cut the phone lines, the fiber-optic cables, in a way that couldn’t be detected or easily repaired,” Fleitz said.
John Guandolo, a former FBI agent, told Malzberg he is convinced the power plant incident was a planned attack.
“If this was only one individual, which it does not look like it was, they would’ve had to been moving out pretty good,” he said.
“They’ve got the telephone cables cut at the underground vault and then within about 30 minutes you’ve got a shooter open-firing on transformers and, according to the police reports, there are over 100 rounds fired from a semi-automatic rifle. So, that’s pretty serious.
“They knew what to shoot, to take it out, and they knew what lines to cut, and they did it all, so far as we can tell, without any person getting on any of the security cameras. So, I’d say it was a pretty well-executed job.”
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By Bill Hoffmann