Terrorism’s Effect on Maritime Shipping
By: Roger L. Tomberlin
In the first years of the nineteenth century, Mediterranean pirates, with the support of the Barbary States of northern Africa, would capture merchant ships, terrorize their crews, and hold the ship for ransom. In response, the United States launched the Barbary wars, the first successful effort by the young republic to protect its citizens from a ruthless, unconventional enemy by fighting a protracted struggle overseas. Today, the international community fails to realize that sea piracy still has not been eliminated. Not only has piracy never been eradicated, but the number of pirate attacks on ships off the coasts of Somalia, Nigeria, and the Malaccan straights has tripled in the past decade elevating piracy to its highest level in history. And contrary to the stereotype, intelligence has revealed that today’s pirates are often trained fighters aboard speedboats equipped with satellite phones and global positioning systems and armed with automatic weapons, antitank missiles, and grenades. Many of these so called pirates have ties to their regional terrorist organizations.
Most disturbingly, the scourges of piracy and terrorism are increasingly intertwined: piracy on the high seas is becoming a key tactic of terrorist groups. Unlike the pirates of old, whose sole objective was quick commercial gain, many of today’s pirates are maritime terrorists with an ideological bent and a broad political agenda. This nexus of piracy and terrorism is especially dangerous for energy markets: most of the world’s oil and gas is shipped through the world’s most piracy-infested waters. As the world’s need for oil, natural gas and goods swell in today’s economy, the need for intelligence concerning the pirates and their home base of operations becomes ever inerrably important. Terrorist incidents have an adverse impact on Maritime shipping throughout the world.
Download: Terrorism’s Effect on Maritime Shipping
Roger L. Tomberlin is a 20+ year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation serving within International and Domestic Terrorism programs. He is currently serving as a Program Coordinator within the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program which includes HAZMAT, railroad, airline, and marine investigations.