The Gulf of Aden is one of the most significant shipping lanes in the world, accounting for nearly 20% of global trade, as well as a significant proportion of maritime piracy.
The War in Yemen, along with other emerging global security challenges, has increased co-operation between pirate groups and Islamic terrorist organisations.
Al-Qaida and ISIS franchise operations have threatened a large-scale terrorist attack in the Gulf of Aden, and have a demonstrated capacity to carry out such an attack.
Shipping lanes are vulnerable to two primary terrorist tactics: Water Bourne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) and Hostage taking.
A WBIED attack on an oil-tanker would have a massive economic, environmental, and ecological impact. In 2002, a WBIED attack on a French tanker leaked 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf, and cost Yemeni ports nearly $3.8 million a month in lost revenue.
In 2017 pirates successfully boarded two separate commercial ships, one an oil tanker, the other a bulk carrier. Neither ship is believed to have adequately followed best security practices Gulf.
In April 2018 the Saudi tanker Abqaiq was attacked by Houthi militants, demonstrating the significant escalation in the conflict. This escalation will encourage further attacks by militia and terrorist groups in the region.
It is crucial that ship-owners and captains have measures in place to protect their vessels: ship-hardening and comprehensive intelligence are essential to managing the risk of piracy-aided terrorist attacks.
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