The Abu Hafs al-Misri Brigades targeted two sections of the electricity grid on Thursday, depriving more than 50 million people of power for more than a day – according to the Arabic language website Global Islamic Media.

The Brigades listed numerous reasons for the operation, comparing the temporary plight of Americans to the constant problem of power failure in occupied Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories.

The group dismissed the official explanation for the blackout, claiming the size of the failure in Toronto and New York could not possibly have been caused by lightening.

Claiming the entire operation only cost $7000 dollars to organise, the Brigades did not give details as to how the attack was made because, they warned, they may carry out a similar operation again.

Reasons for attack

Among the "15 benefits" of the attack listed on the website are:

    • An estimated $10 billion  in lost revenues in ecommerce and a probable rise in insurance premiums
    • Unestimated damage to commercial transactions on the internet
    • Shutting down nine nuclear reactors, seven major airports and numerous trains and roads
    • A reminder that the US is not as secure as the Administration would like to believe

The group end their declaration by promising another "gift of the Shaikh of the Mujahids, Usama bin Ladin, is on its way to the White House".

Official explanation

However the official explanation give a different story. Officials say that at 2006 GMT, a large amount of power began flowing from New York towards Ontario.

But seconds later, the 800-megawatt surge reversed course and began hurtling back toward New York.

Federal investigators ruled terrorism out within the first 45 minutes as there was no detectable physical intrusion into the power grid.

However, at 2130 GMT, the CIA spokesman accepted the possibility that there might have been some terrorist tampering. An admission outlined in Newsweek magazine.

The spokesman added that the agency believed al-Qaida was seeking to target power grids to produce just the widespread chaos witnessed on Thursday afternoon.

Whatever the cause, the national grid has worked well for decades and there is no readily believable explanation as to how the surge occurred when demand on Thursday was only running at 75% capacity.