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TDC Security Alert: Al Qaeda Maritime Targets

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as “KSM,” was captured by the US in 2003 in Pakistan. In his widely reported confession during a Military Tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he portrayed himself as Al Qaeda's operational planner for over thirty attacks and crimes ranging from the 9/11 attacks, assassination plots, bombings, etc., on a worldwide scale. Fortunately, many of his purported plots were never carried out, failed or were thwarted by counter-terror authorities.

A review of his confession available on many internet sites serves as a window into the thinking of the Al Qaeda leadership of what they considered lucrative targets. Many of the plots and attacks have been previously reported in open source media and press reports and are widely known, some shed new light into the diabolical thought processes that existed in the terrorist organization.

A review of the purported list reveals that maritime targets were an integral component of Al Qaeda's desire to attack military, government, financial, industrial, symbolic and VIP targets. Specifically he confessed to (a.) Planning, financing and follow up of operations to destroy American military vessels and oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibralter and the Port of Singapore; (b.) being responsible for planning, training, surveying and financing the operation to bomb and destroy the Panama Canal; and (c.) planning attacks on US vessels calling on Djibouti.

•TDC Analysis:

Subsequently, it is now known that the above attacks were either thwarted or never reached the operational phase. As Company Security Officers (CSO) and Vessel Security Officers (VSO), Al Qaeda's maritime terror list reminds us that our efforts to improve the security of our vessels and ports are not in vain. It is possible that KSM was not directly involved in every plot he confessed to, but it should remind us that our industry has been and will continue to be target.

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