A week ago, a French oil tanker in Yemen exploded; Yemen officials are now calling it a terrorist attack. Early evidence says it’s an Al Qaeda action. The attack was very similar to the Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, in October 2000, and at least one American intelligence official was willing to make the link.
So: why would Al Qaeda target a French tanker right now? France is opposing the US resolution in the UN Security Council. This action will strengthen France’s desire to fight terror, not weaken it. If anything, France will now be more willing to support the US. On the face of it, blowing up a French tanker seems really stupid.
Unless, and this is pure speculation, but unless Al Qaeda is not in Iraq. If that’s true, it makes a ton of sense. If Osama wants the US to get distracted by Iraq, this is an excellent move.