Al-Qaeda terrorists are becoming the new pirates. They’vebought at least 15 ships in the last two years, creating amodern pirate fleet. Their targets are civilian ports, oilrigs and cruise liners.

Joseph Farah’s G2Bulletin reports that the ships fly theflags of Yemen and Somalia, where they’re registered, andare capable of carrying lethal chemicals, “dirty bombs” oreven a nuclear weapon.

There is also evidence terrorists are learning deep seadiving, so they can attack ships from below. The Abu Sayyafterrorist group in the Philippines kidnapped a maintenanceengineer in 2000. After his release this June, he said hiskidnappers knew he was a diving instructor and wanted him toteach them. The owner of a diving school near Kuala Lumpurreported a some potential terrorists wanting to learn aboutdiving, but were strangely uninterested in learning aboutdecompression. This reminds us of the 911 hijackers whoattended U.S. flight schools and were only interested inlearning how to fly jets, not land them.

Singapore Security Minister Tony Tan says, “We have beenalarmed not only by the increase in the number of pirateattacks in the sea lanes of communication in this part ofthe world, but also in the nature of the piracy attacks.”

He says, “We are concerned that terrorists may seize controlof a tanker with a cargo of lethal materials, LNG (liquefiednatural gas) perhaps, chemicals, and use it as a floatingbomb against our port. This would cause catastrophic damage,not only to the port but also for people, because our portis located very near to a highly dense residential area.Thousands of people would be killed.”

Another target is oil tankers, such as the French tankerLimberg, which was blown up in 2002, spilling 90,000 barrelsof crude oil into the ocean. A statement from al-Qaeda said,”By exploding the oil tanker in Yemen, the holy warriors hitthe umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community.”

U.S. intelligence officials says al-Qaeda is now targetingWestern luxury liners and U.S. military aircraft carriers. Alarge number of acoustic sea-mines that disappeared from anaval base in North Korea may be aboard bin-Laden’s pirateships, waiting to spot a likely target.

When he was captured, al-Qaeda’s chief of naval operations,Ahmad Belai al-Neshari, was carrying a 180-page bookletlisting the large cruise liners sailing from Western ports,calling them “targets of opportunity.”

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