Is International Shipping Industry Perfect for a Terrorist Attack?

 In International Shipping, maritime shipping

Terrorism, terrorists, terrorist attacks… These have become common household words in the modern, post 9/11 world. We hear the words so much that perhaps we’ve gone numb to them. Until something like the Boston Marathon bombing happens.

Part of the tactic of creating fear through terrorism, is the unknown place a terrorism attack might happen next and its therefore unexpected nature.

According to the maritime security firm Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT), a place to expect and prepare for a terrorist attack is in the maritime industry.

In fact, GoAGT (an official sponsor of the upcoming London International Shipping Week, btw) posted an article on their site with the alarming title, “Maritime industry perfect for a terrorist attack.”

Hmm… a maritime security company raising alarm about a security risk in the maritime industry? One might think they’re just being alarmists to drum up more business. While raising awareness of security issues does serve the businesses own interests, this is their topic of expertise and should not be ignored in their risk assessment.

GoAGT warns that a maritime attack from Al-Qaeda or other affiliate terrorist groups is increasingly likely as follows:

“The resurgence of Al-Qaeda and affiliate organisations is occurring alongside some of the worlds’ most strategically vulnerable and crowded waterways. The largely unforeseen consequence of the Arab Spring is that it has given terrorists groups a new lease of life and the means to do real harm to maritime activity in the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and at other key strategic choke points,” said Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of GoAGT.

“The growth of sea traffic has made the maritime industry a target rich environment and it isn’t just the obvious targets like oil platforms and large cargo ships which are at risk, but the cruise liner industry provides Al-Qaeda with another opportunity to hit targets where the casualty numbers could be in the thousands,” he warned.

Whether or not the maritime industry would be the best place to make an attack, the article states that such a terrorist attack “would be seen by Al-Qaeda as a headline attack that would promote their cause.”

In “a traditionally terrorism free environment,” as Gerry Northwood is quoted calling it, a maritime terrorist attack “could have a high impact both physically and mentally” in the industry.

international shipping maritime terrorist attackIt is not as though international shipping, specifically maritime, ha not seen attacks. Piracy is a serious security threat in todays international waters, especially those around Somalia and that includes the Gulf of Aden.

That area is exactly the kind of place a maritime security firm like GoAGT would thrive and is very needed. But also a strong area to be the thick of dealing with existing threats but gathering information on them from that region and other hot spots around the world.

GoAGT’s information and statements, their post says come from “not only on the Foreign Office warning to ships transiting through the Gulf of Aden but on a number of threats coming from Yemen, Egypt and Somalia.”

Here are threats that raise the likelihood of terrorist attacks on the maritime international shipping industry highlighted by GoAGT:

The situation in Yemen has escalated as a result of Al-Qaeda’s talks about a major series of attacks in the Middle East, including warnings issued by the UK Government and the Department of Transport raising the International Ship and Port Facility Security threat to level 3….

The latest developments in Egypt have seen a threat against the Suez Canal… Recent arrests of insurgents indicate that they had plans and the capability to carry out attacks on Suez Canal traffic.

In Somalia, links between pirates and Al-Shabaab militant group appear to have seen a growth with pirates being hired to transfer weapons and people from Yemen to the country. This includes proven links between pirate chiefs and Al-Shabaab leaders.

Of course, vigilance over maritime security is a serious responsibility anywhere in the world, not just in the hot spots mentioned above.

Here at Universal Cargo Management, we take the security of your imports and exports as well as the international shipping infrastructure here and abroad very seriously. We do our part in terrorism prevention and preparedness as a validated Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) member.

If a terrorist group does think the international shipping industry a good place for terrorist attack, they should know they won’t catch this industry unawares.

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