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Friday, June 24, 2005

Malacca Strait 'high risk' due to piracy/ terrorism fear?

Concerns expressed here
Piracy has made the Malacca Strait off Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore extremely dangerous for international shipping, requiring joint action by countries in the region before the problem worsens by perhaps involving terrorist groups, a US Coast Guard official said.

"The Malacca Strait is very well known in the maritime community as a very high risk area for piracy and other armed robberies," Commander Clay Diamond, a liaison officer to the US state department, told AFP on the sidelines of an international Maritime Security conference in Nantes, western France.

But with more than 1,000 vessels and more than 10 million barrels of oil passing through the zone every day, and Asian extremist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah active in southeast Asia, there are fears that the Strait may become targeted by terrorists.

"There is every indication to think there's a link between pirates and other maritime criminals and terrorist organisations," Diamond said.

He added that there was the "obvious" scenario of a ship -- a gas or oil tanker for instance -- being hijacked and used to attack a port city as a floating bomb.

"But less obvious and just as problematic is that piracy and other criminal acts at sea can be used as fundraising operations for terrorists."

He added: "We want to break the nexus between smuggling, drug smuggling and the terrorists."
But you knew all this...

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