Intelligence agencies are warning that the next major al-Qaeda attack will come by sea, rather than by air or on land. Earlier this year, a chemical tanker, the Dewi Madrim, was hijacked by pirates in speedboats off the coast of Sumatra. And we recently reported that al-Qaeda has amassed a fleet of 15 ships. Terrorists are also taking deep sea diving lessons.G2Bulletin.com says there has been a 37% increase in piracy during the last 6 months. According to Aegis Defense Services, hijackers are stealing ships in order to learn how to run them.
Diving lessons could be valuable for planting underwater explosives on the hulls of ships. The Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines kidnapped a diver in 2,000. On his release this year, he said his kidnappers wanted him to give them lessons. The owner of a diving school near Kuala Lumpur has reported a number of students who want to learn to dive, but seem strangely uninterested in learning about decompression, in the same way the 911 hijackers wanted to learn to fly jets, but weren’t interested in learning how to take off or land.
There have been 10 cases of pirates stealing tug boats for no apparent reason. They could be planning to tug a hijacked tanker into a busy international port, then blow it up. Another worry is that terrorist pirates might attack a cruise ship or an oil rig.
As the West exerts more control in the Middle East, al-Qaeda is moving into the Pacific ocean and into Asia. “The global war on terrorism is like watching water running downhill. Water always goes to the place of least resistance,” says U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Walter F. Doran. That’s why terrorists now “tend to find themselves in Southeast Asia.”
A recent Rand Corporation study says the West is focusing too much on air safety and that this may cause terrorists to use container ships in terror attacks. They could place timed explosives inside the containers, or use them to deliver weapons of mass destruction to target areas. The report says, “?the marine sector?and specifically the container transport sector?remains wide open to the terrorist threat.”
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