Maritime Security

The threat of ISIS Piracy to the Mediterranean looms on the Horizon

It is feared by officials that Militants loyal to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) could bring ‘Somalia-Style’ piracy to the Mediterranean.

A warning has been issued as yachts and other shipping in the Mediterranean could come under attack from heavily armed ISIS fighters using speedboats to conduct attacks from the Libyan coast.

It is feared that luxury yachts, fishing boats, cruise ships, small merchant ships including coast guards could be singled out as part of a piracy campaign by ISIS.

The Italian Ministry of Defence have prepared an analysis and warns that ISIS has already taken control of Ports in Libya allowing them unrestricted access to the sea.

Experts have feared that should ISIS take to the Mediterranean it could become a highly lucrative business if ransoms are paid.

Former Royal Navy Rear Admiral Chris Parry has recently suggested that ISIS fighters undertaking in piracy would pose a greater danger to shipping and yachting than the Somalis because they are more sufficiently armed.

At Ironside we believe that ISIS pirates would be a greater danger to shipping and yachting than the Somalis simply because they are more sufficiently armed and trained and they are not driven by the greed of the Somali’s but a much worse fundamentalist culture to eradicate all humanity not in agreement with their cause.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will have to act fast if they were to attack ships in the Mediterranean as the impact on trade and the leisure industry would be severe with consequences affecting trade and the already weak economy’s of many European countries.

Somali pirates plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean regions until the introduction of armed guards on vessels combined with intense Naval measures which appear at least for now to have curbed the efforts of Somali piracy as attacks have reduced to their lowest levels since 2005 in the area.

Hostages and cargo vessels were held for multi million dollar ransoms and were paid by the shipping companies or their insurers, which was the key aim of the Somali’s unlike ISIS who so far have mutilated and killed their hostages on camera and uploaded the graphic images to the worldwide web to spread terror and fear to the world.

The most recent atrocity being the murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach. Coupled with their total disregard for human life is their total disregard for prized possessions or priceless historical artefacts. Recent video footage was uploaded to the web showing ancient stone statues under assault in the Mosul Museum in Northern Iraq. Dating from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 100, the figures come from nearby Hatra, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

During the peak of Somali pirate attacks in 2010 around 51 merchant ships were held captive off the coast of Somalia for multi-million dollar ransoms during this year alone. The approximate total between 2008 to 2012 saw 178 vessels hijacked by Somali pirates with the actual number of attacks for the same period over a 1000 in total.

Mediterranean piracy from ISIS fighters would seriously curtail the leisure sailing industry not to mention the cruise industry. Commercial shipping costs would soar due to increased insurance premiums and Defence assets would have to be put in place to enforce a zone similar to that already in place within the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean regions placing greater strain on military budgets and manpower.

BIMCO and other major shipping organisations will have to act fast in conjunction with the IMO as the delay in agreeing to permit armed guards on commercial vessels between 2008 and 2011 was no doubt a major factor for the high number of vessels taken by the Somalis as the number has plummeted since the introduction of armed guards on commercial vessels. To date no vessel with armed guards on board has been hijacked.

At Ironside we are specialists in the Maritime environment and can provide expert risk assessment and threat analysis to the luxury yacht market to ensure that vessel safety is paramount.