North Dakota

Pipeline exec compares Dakota protesters to terrorists

  • This aerial photo shows the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

    This aerial photo shows the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This aerial photo shows a site where the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline will take place with boring equipment routing the pipeline underground and across Lake Oahe to connect with the existing pipeline in Emmons County, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. It is the last big section of the $3.8 billion pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

    This aerial photo shows a site where the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline will take place with boring equipment routing the pipeline underground and across Lake Oahe to connect with the existing pipeline in Emmons County, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. It is the last big section of the $3.8 billion pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A top executive at the company building the controversial Dakota Access pipeline is comparing pipeline opponents to terrorists.

Joey Mahmoud, executive vice president of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, says protesters have "assaulted numerous pipeline personnel," destroyed millions of dollars' worth of construction equipment and even fired a pistol at law enforcement during months of demonstrations against the 1,200-mile pipeline, which will carry North Dakota oil to an Illinois terminal.

Mahmoud tells Congress that the protest movement "induced individuals to break into and shut down pump stations on four operational pipelines. Had these actions been undertaken by foreign nationals, they could only be described as acts of terrorism."

Mahmoud's comments came in prepared testimony for a hearing Wednesday before the House energy committee. The Associated Press obtained the testimony in advance.