Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Al Qaeda's Maritime Threat

By Akiva J. Lorenz | Maritime Terrorism

Terrorism is a phenomenon which citizens of most countries have been tragically familiar with long before the infamous 9/11 attacks in the United States. Despite the long history of a successful fight against the plague of traditional forms of political terrorism, security services have underestimated the threat which militant Islam poses to the Western world. Only the tragic death of about three thousand innocent and unsuspecting citizens on 9/11 opened people’s eyes to visualizing the changing threat. It further exposed the vulnerabilities of the modern, increasingly open, and interdependent societies to highly organized terrorist groups.Incidents such as the attacks on Super Ferry 14 (February 2004), the Madrid train bombing (March 2004), and the London tube bombing (July 2005) demonstrated in the most graphic and chilling way the vulnerability to transportation infrastructures. From this perspective, the question has changed from which country might be the terrorists’ next target, to which mode of transportation would next attract their interest.

As an immediate reaction to these attacks, U.S. officials reviewed shipping and port security, and established security initiatives such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI). Moreover, the international community, in form of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), established the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). However, Al Qaeda operatives, acting in a fast learning and maximizing terrorist network, have learned to adapt to this rapidly changing environment. They appear to have stayed at least one step ahead of the security services invoked thus far by modifying their recruitment and the organizational structure.

Examples of their adaptability are the attacks on the USS Cole (October 2000) and MV Limburg (October 2002). Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to analyze Al Qaeda’s maritime capabilities. Its 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.

Download full report: Maritime Terrorism: Al Qaeda and the Intenational Response


  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Maritime Terrorism
  3. Historical overview
  4. Al Qaeda Background
  5. Wake-up calls
  6. Analyzing the USS Cole Incident
    1. Abdul al-Rahim al-Nashiri
    2. Planning Cycle – Recruitment
    3. Planning Cycle – Preparation
    4. Planning Cycle – Procurement
    5. Planning Cycle – Conclusion
  7. Post USS Cole Attack Skims
  8. Global Maritime Trade Links
    1. Weaknesses – Vessels
    2. Weaknesses – Ports
    3. Weaknesses – Containers
  9. Response
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Mixx

Comments are closed.