Ebook: Maritime Security: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction
It can be easy to forget the critical role that maritime transport plays in the global economy, but international maritime transportation is still responsible for around 90% of global trade. Protecting the maritime infrastructure essential for this trade from terrorism is a major concern for the international community.
This book originates from the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2019. Participants in the three-day workshop included policymakers, senior military officers, and academics from NATO member states, international organizations, and two partner nations: Colombia and Israel. Their extensive discussions focused on methods for protecting critical maritime infrastructure, such as ports, supplies, and personnel, from seaborne terrorist attacks. Presentations and roundtables also addressed the human and social factors that contribute to the defense against terrorism in the maritime domain. The book is divided into three sections: organized crime and narcotrafficking; maritime piracy; and terrorism, and aims to bridge the gaps between these three substantive areas of maritime security research. These have remained largely separate areas of research in the past, with the result that valuable maritime security lessons from counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations have not been fully incorporated into counter-terrorism best practice.
The book facilitates the transmission of lessons learned from counter-piracy and counter-narcotic operations to formulate recommendations for best practice and technological innovations to manage maritime terrorism, and will be of interest to all those working in the field.
In the age of passenger air travel, it can be easy to forget the critical role that maritime transportation plays in the global economy. While average citizens rarely travel by sea these days, international maritime transportation is still responsible for around 90% of global trade. Protecting the maritime infrastructure that allows for this trade, such as ships and ports, from terrorism is a major concern for the international community. As attacks, such as the suicide boat attack on the American warship U.S.S. Cole in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors, demonstrate, maritime terrorism has been a reality for decades (if not longer). Despite this, the subject has received relatively little scholarly attention in recent years. While terrorism is a persistent threat, it is not the only security concern arising from non-state actors in the maritime domain. Piracy and narcotics trafficking also threaten the economic and social wellbeing of societies in many parts of the world. With this in mind, this book aims bridge the gaps between three substantive areas of maritime security research: counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and counter-piracy. Although maritime narcotrafficking, piracy, and maritime terrorism are all long-standing and interrelated security challenges, scholars who study these subject areas are typically segregated into three separate research networks. This stovepiping is heightened by the tendency of individual states to prioritize specific aspects of maritime security, rather than approaching the issue holistically. As a result, valuable maritime security lessons from counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations have not been fully incorporated into counter-terrorism best practices. Lessons from counter-terrorism can also inform counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations. With this goal in mind, Maritime Security: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction brings together fifteen original papers on maritime terrorism, and maritime security more broadly, from twenty-three scholars spread across four continents. By sharing knowledge from diverse national perspectives and research communities, this book facilitates the transmission of lessons learned from counter-piracy and counter-narcotic operations to formulate recommendations for best practices and technological innovations to manage maritime terrorism.
This book originates from Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction, an Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) held at the Royal Danish Defence College in Copenhagen in May 2019. Funded primarily by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, and co-organized by the Colombian National War College, the Royal Danish Defence College, and the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy & Strategy, the three-day workshop gathered policymakers, senior military officers, and academics from NATO member states, international organizations, and two partner nations: Colombia and Israel. Participants engaged in extensive discussions, focusing on methods for protecting critical maritime infrastructure, such as ports, supplies, and personnel, from seaborne terrorist attacks. Presentations and roundtables also addressed the human and social factors that contribute to the defence against terrorism in the maritime domain. The discussions enhanced cooperation between maritime security experts spread across five continents. In particular, the workshop fostered partnerships between participants from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States, NATO Headquarters, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), together with Colombia and Israel. These partner nations provided the ARW with unique insights into countering a wide array of maritime violent non-state actors, including terrorists, pirates, and narcotraffickers.
The book begins with four chapters examining different aspects of narcotics smuggling. In “Lessons from Maritime Narcotics Interdiction: Interdiction in the Maritime Source, Transit, and Arrival Zones of the Western Hemisphere” (chapter 1), Aaron C. Davenport argues that effective domestic and international partnerships are essential to the success of counterdrug missions. Partnerships provide a force multiplier by encouraging unified and efficient effort by personnel from multiple agencies, and by facilitating the sharing of information and assets. The success of any counter-narcotics enterprise, Davenport demonstrates, encompasses domestic and international efforts and thus depends on cooperation among concerned nations. Sharing information between countries, together with regional, local, and private actors has proven critical to combating transnational threats and preventing illegal activities. These international partnerships are based upon a shared commitment to detect, prevent, disrupt, pre-empt, and mitigate the effects of transnational crime.
William Palomino, Robert Barreto, and Alejandra Cerón examine the connections between terrorism and narcotics smuggling in the Latin American context in “Drug Trafficking and Terrorism as Transnational Crimes in Latin America” (chapter 2). Over the decades, Latin America has seen countless organizations dedicated to the illegal cultivation and trafficking of psychoactive substances, as well as groups of insurgent fighters, and other types of criminal organizations, who have permeated the social and economic structures. This has led to new approaches to international cooperation aimed at overcoming insecurity through South-South cooperation strategies and forms of triangular cooperation, together with traditional North-South cooperation. Examining the Colombian case, they explain how the sea has been incorporated into the transnational criminal routes, concluding that it is crucial to develop regional navies to confront criminal organizations.
Focusing on the innovation of devices for drug trafficking, in “Submersibles and Drug Trafficking” (chapter 3), Daniel Rojas-Sanchez, Samuel Rivera-Paez, and Germán Afanador address the possibilities that these methods of transporting illegal substances could also be used by terrorists. They conclude that the construction and the opportunity costs currently make this unlikely; however, the Colombian experience shows that criminal enterprises’ diversification capacities could make the use of submersibles viable for more limited purposes. Therefore, efforts to combat the use of submersibles should include engagement by the international community and the employment of advanced technologies, such as intelligence gathering and analysis, and artificial intelligence. This will help mitigate the chances that terrorist organizations will get their hands on submersibles. It can also help locate places around the world with similar characteristics to those sites where illegal submersibles are built today.
Adriana Avila-Zúñiga-Nordfjeld and Dimitrios Dalaklis similarly analyse new trends in the transport of drugs and weapons in “Dealing with Hydrocarbon Theft and other Transnational Organized Crimes through the Effective Implementation of the ISPS Code” (Chapter 4). The authors focus on the theft of hydrocarbons at sea and the emerging use of packages attached to the bulbous bows of vessels, which are then recovered in Mexican ports with the use of professional divers and small boats. The effective implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) has been fundamental in identifying these new trends. Therefore, they argue, these practices should be shared internationally, and appropriate security measures should be adopted to address them. One of their principal recommendations is the use of remote-controlled underwater vehicles (commonly known as drones) by port authorities for hull inspections as a way of dealing with this problem.
The second section of the book examines the longstanding problem of maritime piracy, as well as the efforts by states to combat pirates. Andrew Lambert’s “New Problems, Old Lessons: British Responses to Piracy in the 19th Century” (chapter 5), provides a historical perspective on counter-piracy. Through a series of case studies, Lambert demonstrates that while piracy is commonly assumed to be the work of outlaws, there is a long history of states working closely with such actors for economic, political and even strategic benefit. This provides an important reminder that many of the issues faced today are not entirely new; instead, the past provides a rich and rewarding reservoir of experience for anyone interested in contemporary policies to combat maritime predation.
Moving to the contemporary era, in “Why Small Navies Prefer War Over Counter-Piracy Operations: The Challenges of Mastering Both” (chapter 6), Anders Puck Nielsen examines how small navies manage conflicting requirements when they are forced to prioritize between maritime security operations and high-intensity warfighting. Using the case of the Royal Danish Navy (RDN), Nielsen argues that in 2015 the RDN shifted from focusing on counter-piracy off the Horn of Africa to preparing to fight high intensity naval warfare alongside NATO Allies. This dramatic shift required significant flexibility by the RDN; and this flexibility is characteristic of smaller navies, which do not have the resources “to do all things at all times.”
Ursula Daxecker and Eric Frécon also look beyond the response of Great Powers in their chapter, “Pirates, Smugglers, and Government Responses to Maritime Crime: Evidence from Indonesia” (chapter 7). The authors examine maritime piracy in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore from a multilevel politics perspective. This approach allows for a better understanding of the conditions leading to piracy and the responses to it. Daxecker and Frécon argue that piracy is produced by governance configurations at regional, national, and local levels, highlighting the importance of disaggregating the state as an actor.
In “Piracy and the Privatization of Maritime Security: Isomorphic Convergence in Vessel Protection” (chapter 8), Eugenio Cusumano and Stefano Ruzza examine European countries’ differing approaches to protecting merchant vessels from Somali pirates. By comparing British, Italian, and Dutch vessel protection policies, they show that the adoption of private security companies (PSCs) was shaped by a convergence of coercive, normative, and mimetic isomorphism tendencies. Specifically, Cusumano and Ruzza argue that the widespread privatization of vessel protection was informed by three principal factors: (i) economic, manpower, and political constraints attached to the use of vessel protection detachments; (ii) perceived effectiveness and growing legitimacy of PSCs; and (iii) the deliberate emulation of vessel protection policies that had already been implemented successfully by other states.
Timothy Walker also examines aspects of African maritime security in “Overcoming the Hurdles of African Multilateral Cooperation for Enhanced Maritime Security” (chapter 9). Walker explores how southern African states and other stakeholders are responding to maritime challenges by focusing on responses to insecurity in northern Mozambique. The maritime and littoral environment in the northern Mozambique Channel and onshore in the Cabo Delgado province represents a unique nexus of African-driven counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic initiatives. He also suggests that this may represent a future fulcrum or pivotal area, not simply for Mozambique, but for numerous actors around the world.
Edward R. Lucas’ chapter “Countering the ‘Unholy Alliance’: The United States’ Efforts to Combat Piracy and Violent Extremism in the Western Indian Ocean, 2001–2014” (chapter 10) also examines the nexus between terrorism and maritime piracy. Lucas argues that the United States was motivated to intervene to suppress Somali piracy primarily because it feared the pirates would form an “unholy alliance” with violent extremist groups, like al-Shabaab. While no significant nexus is known to have materialized, the perception that one would drove America’s robust response between 2008 and 2012. This was especially true in late-2008, when the outgoing George W. Bush administration sought international support for ground operations in Somalia.
In “Taking Ocean Governance Forward: Implications of Twenty Years of Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean,” (chapter 11), Jessica Larsen also studies the western Indian Ocean. From counter-terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to counter-piracy law enforcement and maritime security capacity-building in the late 2010s, Larsen argues that the Indian Ocean has been a testing-ground for an evolving complex of international cooperation and burden-sharing. Using actual operations as her primary data source, Larsen maps how operations have evolved over time in the Indian Ocean. The patterns of interaction she identifies move on a continuum of international cooperation from multilateral towards unilateral approaches.
The chapters in the Counter-Terrorism section present complementary perspectives on a rapidly changing domain. Beginning with Patricia Schneider’s detailed look at “Recent Trends in Global Maritime Terrorism” (chapter 12). Drawing on her own Global Terrorism Database (GTD), Schneider examines how the 72 confirmed global maritime terror attacks that occurred from 2010–2017 conform with previous trend lines in terms of the location, method and severity of terror incidents. She counters the common belief that we are all equally vulnerable to terror attacks by pinpointing the changing locales of terror activity in the maritime domain. She finds in effect that security governance too often ignores the simple fact that a handful of actors are behind most attacks, and that viable targets are often fewer in number and more constrained by location than we tend to think. Furthermore, while high-casualty, high-visibility “black swan” events can trigger rapid change in the security environment, these are rare and fundamentally unlike the common low-casualty, high-frequency and (in certain respects) predictable events that make up the bulk of maritime terror. In Schneider’s estimation, security governance policies can pivot from broad and often ineffective defensive measures to active assessment of militant groups’ goals and resources.
In “Rebel Waterways: Modern Militant Use of the Maritime Domain” (chapter 13), Patricia Blocksome and Craig Whiteside provide an exceptionally rich case study of how one terror group, the Islamic State, took advantage of the maritime domain in a prolonged campaign. Their case is a six-month long battle for control over the city of Marawi in the Philippines. As Blocksome and Whiteside show, Islamic State militants managed to exploit the maritime domain, the littoral zone of Lake Lanao which borders the city, thus enabling them to significantly extend the duration of hostilities. While not all terror groups will have the resources to master this often challenging environment, those that do may discover, as the Islamic State discovered in Marawi, that the maritime domain poses quite significant hurdles for many governments. Having grown accustomed to land-based threats, littoral zones have gone overlooked and competencies and capacities to work in this domain are often underdeveloped. Equally significant, security agencies are often blind to the jurisdictional challenges that get triggered once movement shifts to littoral zones.
Robert McCabe’s chapter, “Improving Maritime Security Sector Capacity to Counter Terrorism: Lessons from International Capacity Building Projects in the Western Indian Ocean” (chapter 14), dovetails with the conclusions of Blocksome and Whiteside’s chapter. McCabe explores how states have improved their maritime security sector capacities in response to new threats. Focusing on the link between maritime criminality and maritime terror, McCabe argues that the most robust lessons learned concern improving information sharing, institutional resilience and enforcement capacity. For McCabe, the effective development of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) architectures is critical to the interagency, multipronged solutions that seem to work best.
Finally, Christian Bueger’s chapter, “A Glue that Withstands Heat? The Promise and Perils of Maritime Domain Awareness” (chapter 15), responds to McCabe’s hopeful assessment of MDA by exploring the possible drawbacks to this emerging solution. Looking closely at the rhetoric of MDA and the often unproven claims advanced by its supporters, Bueger gives this section of the book a sobering reality check. Each chapter comes to the same realization: security sector governance in the maritime domain is too often flat-footed and reactive. While the authors differ in their degree of optimism or pessimism regarding the emerging solutions, the section as a whole strikes a cautionary note.
Completing this book project required the assistance and support of many people and organizations. First and foremost, we would like to thank the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme for its generous support. In particular, our sincerest thanks extend to Ms Elena Beganu for her efforts in shepherding this project since its inception. We are also grateful to the Royal Danish Defence College which provided additional financial and logistical support, including providing a venue for the ARW from which this book originates. Of course, an edited volume is nothing without authors, and we want to thank all of the 23 authors who worked diligently over the past year-and-a-half to produce high-quality research. We are also deeply appreciative to additional ARW participants whose expert insights and feedback helped the authors’ revise their working papers for publication. In particular, we were honoured to have Dr Deniz Beten, Senior Advisor to the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, Rear Admiral Orlando Grisales, Deputy Commandant of the Colombian National War College, and Rear Admiral Henrik Ryberg, Commandant of the Royal Danish Defence College, in attendance. We also want to especially thank Rear Admiral (ret.) Shaul Chorev and Rear Admiral (ret.) Ami Ayalon from the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy & Strategy, Rear Admiral (ret.) Nils Wang, from Naval Team Denmark, and Mr Alan Cole, the head of UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme, for their insightful presentations. A final thanks is due to IOS Press for their diligent efforts in ensuring that this book made it to press.
Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of the citizens of NATO countries and to international stability and prosperity. Valuable maritime security lessons from counter-narcotics operations have not been fully incorporated into counter-terrorism best practices. Effective domestic and international partnerships are essential to the success of the counterdrug mission. Partnerships provide a force multiplier by encouraging unified and efficient effort by personnel from multiple agencies, and by facilitating the sharing of information and assets. The success of any counter narcotics enterprise encompasses domestic and international efforts and thus depends on cooperation among concerned nations. Sharing information with foreign partners and with regional, local, and private actors has been proven over and over again to be absolutely critical to success in combating any transnational threat and preventing illegal activities from threatening the homeland and allies. These partnerships are based upon a shared commitment to detect, prevent, disrupt, pre-empt, and mitigate the effects of transnational crime. Today’s national security challenges lend themselves increasingly to “whole of government” and “unity of effort” solutions that will require structural and cultural changes in the executive and legislative branches. Better interagency organizational constructs are common recommendations in national security reports and commentaries. End-to-end mission management is also key for success. No one organization can do it all, due to the complexity involved and the resources required. Intelligence generation occurs at every step and has been another key to continuously improved performance.
Since the original UN approaches between 1988 and 2000, the global policy to combat drugs, transnational crime, and terrorism has achieved key objectives in its formulation and implementation. However, these efforts have not been sufficient to control all the phenomena associated with these problems, which, in the current context of globalization, are beginning to generate large areas of influence and territorial control dynamics in different regions of the world. This situation has forced governments to understand the criminal phenomenon from a global perspective, especially in the last thirty years. Therefore, this document illustrates the current situation of drug trafficking and terrorism as transnational crimes. It uses a critical analysis as the analytical framework to define relations between the phenomenon and its effects. The basis is the implementation of public policies to fight it. It also discusses a brief analysis of the results of the operations that have been developed. It analyses the Colombian case, and its work with allied countries in the region, to conclude with a synthesis that contributes to the discussion on how crimes are confronted as transnational crimes.
The globalized world in which we live provides amazing opportunities for innovation; but with these opportunities comes the threat that violent non-state organizations can take advantage of these same innovations for their nefarious activities. Drug smuggling provides a clear example of this. For drug traffickers, technological advances have occurred in reaction to improved interdiction capabilities by the authorities. One notable example is the design and use of narco-submarines — a term which refers to a wide range of vessels, from artisanal submersibles to very sophisticated electric vessels capable of multi-day submerged transits. This chapter addresses three questions: First, is it possible for terrorist organizations to use illegal submersibles? Although the answer likely depends on the location of the terrorist organization and the intended target, in general, this is unlikely because of the costs associated with acquiring these vessels. Second, this chapter examines the lessons-learned from the Colombian experience in the fight against maritime crime. To this point, the chapter argues that management, and particularly logistical management, is criminal organizations’ main strength. Finally, this chapter examines the types of actions that can be taken by the international community. In this respect the Colombian experience could not be more clear: international cooperation is the answer.
This chapter examines oil theft, and other types of transnational organized crime at sea (such as the illicit traffic of narcotics and psychotropic substances standing out), within the framework of maritime security and, particularly, the effective implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). The chapter focuses on Mexico; however, these findings can also apply to other countries facing similar security threats. It also highlights possible solutions associated with the effective implementation of the ISPS Code and other appropriate maritime security measures. An important conclusion is that oil theft and illegal bunkering activities, as well as piratical attacks against offshore platforms, are clearly on the rise in Mexico. It also indicates that there is a new trend in the transportation of drugs and weapons, which involved affixing them in packages to the bulbous bows of vessels, a practice which requires international acknowledgment and appropriate handling measures to effectively tackle this specific unlawful practice. It also includes recommendations concerning the use of remote-controlled underwater vehicles (commonly known as drones) by port authorities for hull inspections. Vast quantities of oil are lost daily in Mexico through theft. Large ocean-going tankers take the majority of the stolen crude oil to selected refineries outside the country. This requires significant efforts and coordination that can only be carried out by well organized criminal rings.
Piracy is theft at sea, using violence, or the threat of violence to coerce compliance. However, ‘pirate’ is a fluid label, one that has been adapted across time to suit shifting national agendas. While piracy is commonly assumed to be the work of outlaws, individuals acting outside national jurisdictions, there is a long history of states, especially relatively weak states, working closely with such actors for economic, political and even strategic benefit. The border between state supported privateers or corsairs and common piracy remained porous. Many of the Greek ‘pirates’ in this essay were hungry privateers. Critically these are not new issues, and the past provides a rich and rewarding reservoir of experience, especially at the policy level. Here it is important to distinguish between Seapower states, like post 1688 England/Britain, Denmark, Japan and Singapore, where commerce and trade have far greater political and economic importance than the terrestrial and domestic concerns that dominate the structures of their continental peers. Over the past two thousand five hundred years Seapower states have responded to the challenge of piracy with striking consistency. This paper explores that response through the British experience.
This chapter uses recent operational history of the Royal Danish Navy as a case study into the particular challenges that small navies face. Denmark provides a useful lens because the long counter-piracy mission from 2008–2015 consumed a substantial amount of the navy’s collective warfighting resources. The experience was that it was impossible to maintain a sufficient level of warfighting skills while also committing so many resources to a maritime policing operation. From the literature on small navies it is identified that they typically struggle with problems related to critical mass of materiel, maintaining a sufficient training and education system, limited bureaucratic strength, and a tendency of their leaders to be over-ambitious. It is shown that the requirement to prioritize resources has enticed the Danish Navy to find innovative solutions, but that in the process some choices may have led to an unconscious acceptance of lower standards and disregard for the complexity of less prestigious tasks.
Maritime crime such as piracy, smuggling, human trafficking, the drug trade, and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to be a challenge to effective governance in Indonesia. Beyond damaging effects on local communities and undermining governance in Indonesia, maritime crime has substantial implications for regional actors in the vicinity of affected areas. In this chapter, we examine maritime piracy in Indonesia from a multilevel politics perspective. We adopt a multilevel perspective to understand the conditions leading to piracy and responses to it. We argue that piracy is produced by governance configurations at regional, national, and local levels, highlighting the importance of disaggregating the state as an actor. We then assess responses to piracy at the different levels. We focus our analysis on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) as the areas historically most affected by piracy.
European states initially developed different policy responses to protect merchant ships crossing the Indian Ocean from pirates: while some countries immediately employed private security companies (PSCs), others resorted to vessel protection detachments (VPDs) or devised a dual approach which only authorizes PSCs as a last resort. By 2018, however, all states with a sizeable shipping industry had de facto privatized vessel protection. This chapter conceptualises this process as a form of institutional isomorphism. By examining British, Italian, and Dutch vessel protection policies, we show that the turn to PSCs was shaped by a convergence of coercive, normative, and mimetic isomorphism tendencies. Specifically, the widespread privatization of vessel protection was informed by the economic, manpower, and political constraints attached to the use of VPDs, the perceived effectiveness and growing legitimacy of PSCs, and the deliberate emulation of vessel protection policies that had already been implemented successfully by other states.
This chapter explores how southern African states and other stakeholders are responding to maritime insecurity challenges by focusing on responses to insecurity in northern Mozambique. The maritime and littoral environment in the northern Mozambique Channel and onshore in the Cabo Delgado province represents a unique nexus of African-driven counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic initiatives. It arguably represents a future fulcrum or pivotal area, not simply for Mozambique, but numerous actors around the world. Yet it remains an under-studied area. This chapter begins by outlining why the northern Mozambique Channel has become so significant an area over the past decade. It looks at the development of a multilateral and regional responses, as primarily perceived and driven by South Africa, and how stakeholders have struggled to overcome some key hurdles in the enhancing of maritime security.
From Roman efforts to destroy pirate fleets in the Mediterranean in the first century BCE, to American counter-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa in recent times, powerful maritime states have at times intervened militarily to suppress piracy. Despite the considerable scholarly interest in examining how powerful states go about suppressing piracy, however, there has been little in-depth examination of why these states are willing to expend resources combating piracy in the first place. When this question is addressed, counter-piracy efforts are usually portrayed as the provision of the global public goods of secure sea lanes and universal access to the global maritime commons. As a result, counter-piracy is presented as a quintessential example of hegemonic power at work in the international system. Through an analysis of the United States’ efforts to combat maritime piracy in the western Indian Ocean between 2008 and 2014, this chapter examines the question: why and under what conditions do maritime hegemons intervene militarily to suppress piracy? The findings presented here challenge the standard provision of global public goods explanation; instead, this chapter demonstrates that the United States intervened when fighting Somali pirates was perceived as linked to other achieving other vital national security interests, such as combating terrorism.
This chapter examines how the maritime domain has been appropriated as a space of international security operations by analysing the patterns of recent interactions at sea. It takes as its empirical case the western Indian Ocean, which for the past two decades has been subject to a range of security-related operations. From counter-terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to counter-piracy law enforcement and maritime security capacity-building in the late 2010s, the Indian Ocean has been a testing-ground for an evolving complex of international cooperation and burden-sharing. Using actual operations as the primary data source, the chapter maps how operations have evolved over time in the Indian Ocean.
Given the enormous importance of maritime trade to the world trading system, there are significant concerns about the ramifications of a terror attack. Recent incidents with firing at oil refineries or gas terminals, as well as on container or cargo ships, also in maritime choke points as well as hijacking and kidnapping incidents, have raised awareness for maritime attacks. At the same time, views differ on whether the phenomenon is exaggerated or relevant. I argue that to judge this, one first needs to understand the true characteristics and potential of the global risk represented by maritime terrorism which, in turn, is a prerequisite for deciding on maritime security governance measures. Using the strongest terrorism criteria, to retrieve only the cases where there is essentially no doubt of terrorism and including only successful attacks with tangible effects, 72 cases were found and evaluated for the years 2010–2017. This essay argues that a more specified analysis of the region and actor context could lead to a more specific response.
From May to October 2017, the city of Marawi in the Philippines was the scene of an intense urban battle, as government security forces fought to retake control of the city from militants claiming affiliation with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS/ISIL). This six-month battle was the “longest urban war” in Philippine history. One reason for the length of the fight had to do with geography; Marawi is located along the shore of Lake Lanao. Without the maritime access provided by the lake, the militants would not have been able to continue fighting for as long as they did. This paper examines the importance of the maritime domain to violent extremist organizations (VEOs), and argues that VEOs develop maritime capabilities when maritime access offers strategic utility to the group and when the state does not have adequate maritime capabilities to counter VEO use of waterways. The first section examines the specific ways in which maritime capability might offer VEOs strategic benefits. Then, the paper shifts to looking at a case study of maritime VEO operations. Drawing on the theoretical discussion of the strategic utility of the maritime domain, we examine how the Islamic State movement and its global affiliates found operational uses for the maritime domain. The chapter conclude with an analysis and observations on how this case can help us understand the current militant use of the maritime domain.
The nature of the maritime environment presents unique challenges for countering criminal and terrorist activity. Often overlooked in the literature, multilateral capacity building approaches offer lessons for developing more sustainable security architectures and resilience within coastal states, which are both the source and solution to countering extremism, criminality and terrorism in maritime spaces long term. This paper firstly examines the crossovers between maritime piracy, terrorism and other forms of maritime criminality as context to understanding the transferability of approaches. Next, maritime security capacity building projects launched by international organizations in the western Indian Ocean are briefly discussed, highlighting pertinent activities and innovative approaches. Finally, lessons from these projects are extracted and discussed within the context of maritime terrorism.
Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is often heralded as a sort of silver bullet, allowing resources to be employed effectively across maritime security agencies, but also different jurisdictions. MDA is believed to be a core enabler for international maritime security cooperation and is seen as one of the most important tools in addressing maritime security threats, such as piracy, illegal fishery, smuggling or maritime terrorism. This chapter traces the origins and evolution of MDA. I then provide a short history of developing regional MDA in the form of inter-governmental information sharing centres. My reconstruction documents the gradual evolution of MDA structures leading up to an emerging transnational network set up over the past two decades. The succeeding sections then ask a range of questions towards MDA seeking theoretical and empirical evidence for and against its core premises. What kind of evidence exists so far, which would justify the claims that MDA is a core enabler for transnational cooperation, increase effectivity and addresses the capacity gap? What kind of theoretical premises might support such conclusions?