New York, Feb 27 (IANS) A study looking into the concerns that a secret memo with 200 international sites made public by WikiLeaks may have provided a target list for terrorists has found no evidence that it led to any attacks.
“When the list came out, there was a lot of concern that this was a to-do list for terrorists,” said Dr Daniel G. Arce from the University of Texas at Dallas.
WikiLeaks published a secret memo listing critical infrastructure facilities around the world in 2010. The classified Department of Homeland Security information listed weapons manufacturers, mines, pharmaceutical facilities and other sites that, if attacked, would critically impact the US.
US officials denounced WikiLeaks for releasing the list, saying it could jeopardise national security.
As part of his study, Dr Arce compared the facilities with more than 40,000 terrorism incidents entered in the Global Terrorism Database, which includes information on terrorism events. Arce focused on events occurring from December 2010 through 2014.
Of the more than 200 sites on the State Department’s list, two were attacked after the locations were leaked.
An attack on an oil refinery in Basra, Iraq, did not result in any casualties.
The study, published in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, reported that it would be difficult to attribute the attack to WikiLeaks given the insurgent activity in that nation.
The other attack was on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey, which had been attacked multiple times before the release of the WikiLeaks list.
“It’s really unlikely that it was a to-do list for terrorists,” Arce said. “It doesn’t appear that it created as much of a security risk as claimed.”
He noted that failed attacks might not be chronicled in the database.
“It’s possible that sites on the list were not attacked because the list prompted better security at those locations,” Arce said.