Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Horn of Africa

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The Horn of Africa is one of the most important hubs for maritime traffic in the world today. Raw goods, including oil, that are departing the nations of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East must pass through this area in route to Europe and the West. Three-fourths of the Earth is covered in water and roughly eighty percent of global economic goods are transported via commercial maritime shippers. The volume of maritime trade is highly congested in this region. Ships must pass through either the Gulf of Aden and ultimately to the Mediterranean or proceed south from the Arabian Sea towards the southern trip of Africa via the Indian Ocean. Piracy in the region has increasing dramatically in the last decade, largely because Somalia and Yemen can be considered failed states. The lack of government involvement in suppressing pirate activities has indirectly allowed them to flourish. The sheer size of the area, roughly two and a half billion square miles, goes predominantly unpatrolled. The scope of the problem piracy poses pales in comparison to the size of the ocean in which they successfully operate.

Discrepancies arise in the strategic analysis of the security threat piracy and terrorism in the Horn of Africa actually poses. The amount of attacks that can be directly attributed to identified terrorist organizations are remarkably few. Nevertheless, piracy against both private and commercial vessels has increased. In 2012, according to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), successful pirate seizers of merchant vessels were reduced from thirty-eight to twenty-one. However, the same report shows a near twenty five percent increase in the number of attempted attacks. On its official website, the International Maritime Organiza...

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..., 2009)

Michael D. Greenberg, Peter Chalk, Henry H. Willis, Ivan Khilko, Davis S. Ortiz, “Maritime Terrorism: Risk and Liability,” (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2006)

Rohan Gunaratna, “The Threat to the Maritime Domain: How Real is the Terrorist Threat?” in Modern Piracy and Maritime Terrorism: The Challenge of Piracy for the 21st Century, ed. M.R. Haberfield et al. (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2009)

“Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships,” The International Maritime Organization, Accessed March 26th, 2014. http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Security/PiracyArmedRobbery/Pages/Default.aspx

“Protecting Ships from Somali Pirates – The Navy vs. Private Security” Ed. Forbes, gCaptain, March 2013. Accessed March 26th, 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/gcaptain/2013/03/11/protecting-ships-from-somali-pirates-the-navy-vs-private-security/

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