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Saturday, March 26, 2005

After tsunami, fears of a piracy resurgence

Sometimes CNN is so clueless... After a couple of weeks of revised Malaccan pirate attacks,CNN Money runs this headline: After tsunami, fears of a piracy resurgence. Duh.

Not all in the article is as bad as the headline, though:
"It's going to get worse because the money from piracy is so good," said the managing director of a Singapore shipping company whose ships have been ransacked by bandits in the past and who has negotiated with pirates for the release of abducted crew.

"All they have to do is pirate three or four vessels a month. Each averages about $100,000 for them, so they can bring about $4 million a year. That's a lot of money and they can well afford to pay people off," said the shipper, who declined to be identified.
Security experts and shipping executives say the attacks expose failures in coordinated patrols that began in July by the Indonesian, Singapore and Malaysian navies, and highlight the need for tougher -- possibly international -- intervention.

"You'd have to say that clearly patrols are not working," said as Michael Richardson, a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and author of a book on maritime security in the Strait called "A Time Bomb for Global Trade."
Singapore, which relies on sea trade for seven percent of its economy, retched up warnings of possible links of piracy and terrorism after uncovering a plot in 2001 by the militant Jemaah Islamiah network to attack U.S. naval ships in its waters.

Its authorities talk of one particularly deadly scenario -- a tanker ship laden with liquefied natural gas or lethal chemicals hijacked by terrorists and used as a "floating bomb" against its port, killing thousands and choking world sea trade.

That nightmare is unlikely, says Richardson.

"When you think about it, pirates essentially have a criminal and profit motive. Terrorists have political objectives in mind and they would not in my view make comfortable bedfellows."
Let me make it clear that I distinguish between pirates and terrorists. However, the risk is that terrorists will learn from pirates and use the same techniques to capture a ship or two and use them for their own nefarious purposes, not that the garden variety pirate wil suddenly convert to being a terrorist.

Update: Did the headline change or am I just imagining it?

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