Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interesting Reading About Piracy at Sea and Maybe Terrorism, too

Interested in trends of worldwide maritime piracy? Here are some things to help:

Pirates during an assault
(1) You can begin with The “Radicalization” of Maritime Piracy: Implications for Maritime Energy Security by Dr. Donna Nincic of the California Maritime Academy:
At the same time, we are seeing a new and potentially more troubling trend occur: the increasing “radicalization” of maritime piracy in that pirate groups—especially in Somalia, but not limited to that country—are starting to cooperate at certain levels with terrorist entities in the region. Up until very recently, pirate gangs and terrorist organizations were thought to have mutually exclusive agendas. The fact that they seem to have arrived at some level of accommodation and mutually beneficial cooperation may presage more dangerous waters for the future.
See also a Lloyd's List warning about reports of Al Shabaab interest in learning "navigation":
At present, al-Shabaab taxes piracy groups that use areas under its control for holding vessels and crews until the ransoms are paid. However, intelligence experts say that there are strong indications that al-Shabaab is seeking to learn the basics of navigation with a view to entering the piracy game as a way of raising cash. Indeed, earlier this month the group’s members fought a gun battle with a piracy gang, demanding the pirates’ weapons and three South African hostages.

The piracy gangs are resisting the approaches for navigational tuition, knowing that the Islamic gangs have a habit of entering an area and then seeking to take complete control. So while the arrival of what are in effect Islamic terrorist gangs into the Gulf of Aden and beyond has yet to be seen, there will be a new and more extreme piracy operation in the future.
Bab al Mandab Strait
There was a report from back in September that Al Shabaab was calling for a "sea jihad." And another report that al Qaeda had called on Al Shabaab to "block the Red Sea":
THE Yemen-based wing of Al-Qaeda, in a recording posted on the Internet on Monday, called on Somali insurgents to help gain control over a narrow strait at the mouth of the Red Sea to block US shipments to Israel.

The wing's deputy leader, Saeed al-Shehri, urged Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist insurgents to help return the Bab al Mandab strait, which separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa, 'to the lands of Islam'.

'At such a time the Bab (al Mandab) will be closed and that will tighten the noose on the Jews (Israel), because through it America supports them by the Red Sea,' Shehri said in the audio recording posted on a website often used by Islamist groups.

(2) From Bergen Risk Solutions, "Somali Piracy and the Monsoon Season" (pdf), warning that though we may be entering a monsoon season that might slow Indian Ocean piracy, the Gulf of Aden and other less impacted areas might not see much of a decline in Somali pirate operations.

(3) A piece from The African about why the South African Navy has not joined in the anti-piracy force off Somalia (reprinted here). The main answer is money, of course, followed by fleet size and a lack of motivation:
South African Navy: SAS Amatola (F145) on sea trials.
According to diplomatic sources, several European countries have indicated their willingness to at least partly finance South Africa's participation in the international effort to combat piracy. This would include the integration of marines into the naval task force and training in Djibouti or Mombasa.

"It is in line with South African foreign policy ideals of 'Africa for the Africans', and yet there is absolutely no African presence here," said one source.

(4) Another pdf - this time from a marine insurance carrier, Allianz, on "Piracy: An ancient risk with modern faces":
Allianz piracy study highlights how ship-owners can respond to increased risk.

Ship security measures from the Allianz study
As the threat of piracy off the Horn of Africa continues to grow, this report provides an overview of recent developments in piracy, focusing on how ship-owners can address the risk through both active risk management and suitably tailored 'war' insurance policies for ships in risk risk areas.

In addition, the study points out that crews entering dangerous waters must be prepared to handle an attack, and it calls for a more coordinated solution to the recent wave of piracy.

AGCS also identifies a number of practical responses that crews can take when passing through piracy zones, and the study also points out that whilst piracy may be on the rise off Somalia and other parts of Africa, it is declining in other areas, but still poses a real threat to shipping and trade.

(5) An article from the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine on how an over emphasis on fighting Somali pirates might cause us to miss the larger maritime security issue of which the Somali pirate situation is but a "symptom" in Steven Carmel's The Big Myth of Somali Pirates.

(6) And finally, my own post on the spread of Somali piracy at Assessing the Containment of Somali Pirates .

That ought keep you busy for a few minutes.

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