Acts of piracy and terrorism at sea are on the rise, but there is little evidence to support concerns from some governments and international organizations that pirates and terrorists are beginning to collude with one another, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.
The objectives of the two crimes remain different -- piracy is aimed at financial gain while the goal of terrorism is political. Although both events are increasing, piracy is growing much faster and remains far more common than seaborne terrorism, according to the report.
"The maritime environment will likely remain a favorable theater for armed violence, crime and terrorism given its expanse, lack of regulation and general importance as a critical conduit for international trade," said Peter Chalk, author of the study and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "While there is no quick fix for eliminating all of this, we can rationally manage the threats within acceptable boundaries."
Chalk said the study's findings suggest U.S. policymakers focus too much on responding to worse-case terrorist scenarios rather than crafting policies to combat lower consequence (but more probable) attacks that could strike cruise ships or passenger ferries. Just as seriously, the U.S. government has paid comparatively little attention to combating piracy, despite its proven cost in terms of human lives, political stability and economic disruption.
The number of piracy incidents worldwide increased 68 percent from 2000 to 2006, compared to the previous six year period, according to the study. Meanwhile, the period saw only a modest spike in terrorist attacks and plots at sea, including the 2004 bombing of the Philippine ship SuperFerry 14 that killed 116 people.
Acts of piracy -- boarding a ship to commit theft or another crime -- totaled 2,463 actual or attempted incidents between 2000 and 2006, according to the report. The
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