Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Threat of Maritime Terrorism

Maritime Terrorism has become a buzzword among security experts over the past seven years. Incidents such as the attacks on USS Cole (October 2000) and MV Limburg (October 2002) demonstrated in the most graphic and chilling way the vulnerability of maritime transportation infrastructures, of both military and merchant shipping.
Among the most experienced traditional terrorist groups that possess maritime
capabilities are the Middle Eastern Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO),
Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the
Lebanese Hezbollah. All the above mentioned terrorist groups have a mutual enemy
in the democratic State of Israel.

Israel has accumulated a vast amount of experience in combating maritime
terrorism. Over the past decades, according to a senior Israeli navy officer, Israel has
detected more then 80 maritime terror plots.6 While most attacks have been foiled,
terrorist operatives have learned to adapt to this rapidly changing environment.

Incidents - such as the attack on INS Hanit (July 14, 2006) - show that groups such as
Hezbollah have stayed at least one step ahead of the security services. Furthermore, as
the global jihad movement is closing in on Israel and is experienced in maritime
terrorism due to its Yemen operations, the danger has increased.
From this perspective, the question needs to be raised whether and how Israel has
succeeded in diverting major maritime disasters. Therefore, this essay will analyze
Palestinian and Al Qaeda’s maritime capabilities, focusing on the 1970s and from
2000 to 2006. Their past operations will be reviewed, new developments will be
discussed, and projections will be given in order to help security services ensure a
safer tomorrow.

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