electrical-gridA terrorist attack on the Pakistani national grid plunged more than 140 million people into darkness before power was restored, prompting U.S. experts to warn that terrorist cells and “lone wolves” in the United States could cause similar damage to the vulnerable national electric-grid system. The blackout in Pakistan affected more than 80 percent of the country’s population and all public services in all the major cities, including the capital, Islamabad. A separatist group in the Naseerabad district of Baluchistan province in the country’s southwest caused the blackout by blowing up a major transmission line connected to the national grid. It was the third such attack in two weeks. “It shows the bad guys definitely do know what they’re doing when they want to – in a country with upwards of 100 nuclear weapons,” said Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. In the latest attack on a major transmission line in Pakistan, two nuclear plants went offline after the outages while problems occurred at the country’s main international airport in Lahore.  “(At) the prime minister’s directive, we are not to sleep until this problem is resolved,” said Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power in a Twitter message. Explosions at two of the transmission sites in Naseerabad created a backward surge also affecting the system, making repairs difficult. The massive blackout from the terrorist attack came just after Pakistan went through a gasoline shortage which caused Indian Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to cancel his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Plunging oil prices are creating a condition in which the national utility companies cannot make a profit to pay for maintenance and upgrades. According to one expert, the attackers apparently found what is termed a “systempunkt,” an essential, focal point in the network. “An attack on a systempunkt can generate cascades of failure that take down the entire network,” the source said. “It’s possible, although unlikely, the attackers knew this was the network’s systempunkt when they destroyed it.” More