COUNTER PIRACY AND MARITIME TERRORIST THREAT

1. Introduction

A discussion on piracy and maritime terrorism will have to start with a clear understanding of what sea piracy and maritime terrorism is or entails. The purpose of sea piracy is basically one of economic interest. Not necessarily will the targeted vessel be destroyed, as depending on the intentions, it might be hauled away and later undergo a complete identity change.  By controlling the ship or vessel, pirates will be able to plunder its cargo and other valuables, which later can then be used for: (i) Enriching individuals and/or limited group of pirates, (ii) Funding criminal organizations, (iii)  Funding armed separatists’ movement,(iv) Creating the embryo of trans-national crime organizations (TCO).

From legal perspective, counter measures against sea piracy has been put into effect through set of laws, such as UNCLOS 1982, and the ISPS Code, which both have been translated into national laws of countries involved.

In the case of maritime terrorism, the purpose is to destroy and inflict huge loss of life. Usually the targets are objects, that: (i) If destroyed, will cause huge damage and loss of lives, (ii)  Are not protected with adequate security systems, (iii) If destroyed, will cause a series of simultaneous damages.

From this perspective, maritime terrorism is considered an extraordinary crime, and in most cases perpetuated by political interest. Therefore, legally the existing law is deemed not sufficient to deal with this heinous crime.

Currently the international community is under constant threat of many and multiple forms of terrorism, aggravated by the simple fact that no one or even one country is immune from it. There is no guarantee that it will not happen in the future, be it in terms of time or place of occurrence. Attempts to eliminate or mitigate terrorism are facing a number of problems: (i) Terrorism is an effective means to achieve certain goals. (ii) It is relative inexpensive and generate quick and tangible results. (iii) The recruitment process of terrorist is not complicated and low cost.

Very probable, future terrorism will not resort to conventional modus operandi, e.g. hijacking, kidnapping, or other acts that are aimed at introducing the identity and interests of certain groups. The next generation of terrorism is far more sophisticated and advanced in term of technology and concepts, i.e.: (i) Fire and forget. (ii) The use of weapons of mass destruction. (iii) Attacks on soft targets. (iv) Attacks with the objective of inflicting huge loss of life.

Acts of maritime terrorism, both sea-borne and port-based is now more commonly known to the international community, especially after the incident of USS Cole, the explosion of theLimburgsuper tanker and the explosion inAshdod,Israel, one of the most securely guarded ports in the world. Those three incidents should provoke awareness thatIndonesiais facing at least three modes of marine terrorism threats, i.e. (i) Ships at port are not safe or excluded from terrorists attacks. (ii) Terrorist possess the capability of attacking ships at sea. (iii) Major and well secured ports are not immune from terrorist’s actions.

It can be safely assumed and concluded that acts of maritime terrorism are aimed at creating imbalances and destruction in the global economic community and processes, to achieve financial benefits or just to send political and security signals.

2. The Indonesian Case 

From security perspective,Indonesia’s geographical location poses a very high level of vulnerability for maritime terrorism, because :

  • It is an archipelago consisting of not less than 17,506 islands.
  • 5.8 million square kilometers of water territory.
  • Indonesiahas three sea-lines of communication (SLOC) and four choke points, i.e. the Straits of Malacca, Sunda,Lombok, and Ombai.
  • Only three parts ofIndonesiahas land-borders, and the rest is wide open for access from the sea.

The above situation emphasizes the need thatIndonesiashould be aware of the fact that the occurrence of maritime terrorism has a high level of probability. In this context, two scenarios are prevalent;Indonesiais either a prime target or a springboard for terrorists.

According to statistics, 17 bombings took place in Indonesia, all of them took place on land, of which three were high-profile cases, i.e.: the Legian-Bali bombing, JW Marriot Hotel-Jakarta, and the Australian Embassy in Kuningan. With regard to security issues pertaining to sea piracy and armed robberies, all incidents were aimed at taking over of vessels and/or its cargo. Examples are: the hijacking of Alondra Rainbow, carrying aluminum alloy and the tanker Pematang with oil.

In 2002, the Indonesian Navy recorded 52 sea robberies, 14 sea hijackings, a total of 66 incidents, or an increase of 5 compared to the previous year. Robberies were usually conducted using speed-boats, and the use of fire-arms and sharp weapons. Of the very few attempts that were prevented, it was due to the alertness of the seamen on board or some preventive measures by the Navy.

The cases of maritime terrorism inIndonesiaare very minimal, and executed in a very rudimentary form. The cases involved the throwing of small fishing explosives into fishermen’s boats, mutilation of arms and murder, all with the intention of discouraging the fisherman from fishing in fish-rich seas. By doing this foreign fishing groups will be able to dominate the area, which until today has no correlation with political interests.

Nevertheless, Indonesia is fully aware of the probability of occurrence of far worse incidents, such as, blowing up a super liner or supertanker etc. There are indications that direction, as they once found a tug boat pulling a vessel full with explosives. There are also reports about the training of scuba-divers or human torpedoes, to be deployed in attacks at civilian targets.

The greatest concern of the Indonesian Navy is that the terrorist will use sea mines as a means to disrupt at sea. Three or four sea mines suffice to disrupt the sea traffic in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

The above scenario is quite realistic, for the following reasons:

=> Based on the properties of the explosive agents used:

  1. It is very effective to be executed in small passage ways which are relatively shallow.
  2. It is easy to transport and operate.
  3. It can cause serious damage to cargo vessels.

=> The Bali-bombing II gave a very clear indication that the executors were new recruits. The police also indicated that they have apprehended 19 suspects, who called themselves freelance mujahidin and is still looking for 16 others.

=> Indonesia’s geographical location:

  1. A porous and lengthy border.
  2. The military and law enforcement agencies are facing tremendous problems in monitoring and controlling thousands of islands.
  3. There are many places for terrorists to build or establishtemporary base camps.

Meanwhile, intelligence resources have indicated some vital information: (i) A group of Indonesians (code Group 272), most of them believed to be veterans of wars in Afghanistan, has planned attacks on super-tankers in the Straits of Malacca.(ii) From the case  of Dewi Madrim,  a chemical tanker, security  forces learned  that  the hijackers were capable to navigate the ship along the Malacca Straits for over an hour.(iii) The Abu Sayaf group kidnapped scuba-diving specialists in order to train their members. (iv) Umar Al Farouk’s confession, a suspected terrorist caught on 5th June 2004, informed the Intelligence that his group is designing a scuba-attack against US warships. (v) Some tugboats were reported missing in Indonesian waters since the end of 2003.

The combination of the elements leads to three possible scenarios of attack:

  • Implementing the fire and forget mode, specifically on super-tankers and super-liners sailing in narrow straits.
  • Against warships using some unconventional underwater stealth scuba-diving equipments and some motorized underwater sleds.
  • Moving in tugboats closer to the ports vicinity, and explode it to create a series of explosions.

3.      Measures To Eliminating Maritime Terrorism

Internal problems. In national context, various attempts to combat maritime terrorism were hampered by various constrains and problems.

  • Increasing political pressure from inside as well as outside the country. Domestically attempts and efforts to combat terrorism require a strong political umbrella supported by unanimous and strong public preference. The trial of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir last November clearly reflects the sentiment of certain groups with respect to government efforts to counter terrorism. Outside the country, certain groups put pressure on security and law enforcement bodies to do more but without giving concrete support.
  • Ground operations aimed at preventing and overcoming terrorist threats, absolutely require strict rules of engagement, especially in the most critical situation, which is how to stop threats before it inflict huge loss of live and or major casualties. Harsher and more coercive methods and systems might be required, but will probably run contrary with the interest of other groups, such as the campaign of human rights, and promotion of human security. Both of which are usually led by foreign NGO’s.

Unilateral initiatives. To cope with various maritime terrorist threats, the Indonesian government has developed comprehensive measures, also referred to the UNSC Resolution No. 1373/2001, enhancing the legal principles for the three spectrums of activities, i.e. dissuasion, denial, and operational security on the ground.

=> Dissuasion. On national scale, it should be noted that the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs has implemented dissuasion programs focused at the most vulnerable and so called dangerous areas, i.e. regencies along the East Coast of Sumatera, bordering with the Straits of Malacca. The main purpose of this program is to increase people’s welfare and alleviate poverty in remote areas. Six regencies are the main priority, i.e.: Rokan Hilir; Bengkalis; Siak; Palalawan; Indragiri Ilir, and Karimun. Next priority will be given to tens of regencies along the SLOC as well as the region around the three choke points. In this context, the issue of regional autonomy will be crucial as each region has its own respective authority.

Dissuasion activities will have positive impacts, but taking to account that the process of increasing people’s welfare in those targeted areas will require time and substantial financial support.

=> Denial. Denial programs include efforts to increase the local people’s awareness of law and regulations, the strengthening of monitoring and control institutions such as the regional parliaments, indigenous cultural institutions, improvement of early warning systems by empowering and utilizing the role of maritime community, etc.

Still, achieving positive impacts of these types of activities is a lengthy, consistent and intensive process, but will instill a sense of awareness of law and regulations for the public and empower law enforcement bodies.

=> Tactical operations.Indonesia has introduced a number of initiatives on unilateral, trilateral, and multilateral level. Unilaterally, Indonesian government conducts the following activities:

  1. Strengthening the maritime security system, by enhancing the sense of security, the dissemination of the importance of ISPS Code, including the acceleration of the implementation of ship’s security.
  2. The  Navy has established nine surveillance posts in the Straits of Malacca; manned by the Indonesian marines, functioning as rapid deployment forces in strategic places. It has also established two command and control units in Batam and Belawan, under the control of the Naval Western Fleet Headquarters in Jakarta.
  3. Establish a trilateral cooperation between Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore, and bilateral cooperation, respectively withThailand,Philippines,Australia, andUnited States.

International Co-operation.   Indonesia has reiterated its commitment to closely co-operate with other countries for at least five reasons, namely; (1) the threats of maritime terrorism has a global networking and know no boundaries, (2) the geographical configuration as an archipelagic state situated at the world crossroad, (3) there are 10 countries share maritime borders with Indonesia, and they maintain different levels of operational capabilities, (4) needed common regional understanding in order to eliminate maritime terrorism threats, and  (5) a pressing need to increase the capacity building.

So far, there were several initiatives developed by various parties, for examples—the Regional Maritime Security Initiatives, ISPS Code, and the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was practiced in the form of maritime interdiction game atNewport(in September-October 2004).Indonesiahas also come out with some initiatives, one of which was promoted by Admiral Bernard Sondakh, the Chief of Navy, in his presentation at the WPNS Seminar inTokyo(2002). He promotes four particular points; those are (1) the sea free from threats of violence, (2) the sea free from navigational threat, (3) the sea free from threats to marine resources, and (4) the sea free from law transgression.

Indeed, in  order to  implement  and transform  all those four points into a workable program of action, a common understanding is an absolute necessity. Our chance to do so may well be placed in the ASEAN Regional Forum and especially through the ideas of ASEAN Security Community (as stipulated in the Bali Concord II), in which maritime security is clearly incorporated into its plan of action.

With regard to the international co-operation, the Indonesian Navy has so far developed a net of co-operation with, among others,Singapore,Malaysia,Thailand, thePhilippines, India, Australia, and theUnited States. Needless to say, developing any co-operation would absolutely require several factors as pre-requisites, such as a solid common understanding, an effective institution, and fair and just rule of the game acceptable to each party.

There are two important events in 2005 should be noted; (i) The conference in Batam in August 2005, which was later known as The Batam Joint Statement and (ii) The IMO Conference held on September 7 and 8 in Jakarta, later called The Jakarta Statement.

The Batam Joint Statement which resulted in 15 agreements, three of which were.[i]:

  • The Ministers encouraged cooperation between littoral States and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to put in place the Pilot Project of Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) as a step forward for the enhancement of the safety of navigation and environmental protection in the Straits. The Ministers also took note of the forthcoming establishment of the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre inSingapore. In this regard the Ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia indicated their respective countries’ preparedness to cooperate with the Centre.
  • The Ministers supported the convening of the Chiefs of Defence Forces ofMalaysia,Indonesia,Singaporeand Thailand Informal Meeting (CDF-MIST Informal Meeting) inKuala Lumpuron 1-2 August 2005, and encouraged them to further strengthen their cooperation.
  • The Ministers agreed to establish a TTEG on Maritime Security to complement the works of the existing TTEG on Safety of Navigation and the Revolving Fund Committee.

The Jakarta Statement, which some of the agreements were[ii]:

  • The work of the TTEG on Safety of Navigation in enhancing the safety of navigation and in protecting the marine environment in the Straits, including the efforts of the TTEG in relation to the implementation of article 43 of UNCLOS in the Straits should continue to be supported and encouraged;
  • The mechanism be established by the three littoral States to meet on a regular basis with user States, the shipping industry and others with an interest in the safe navigation through the Straits, to discuss issues relating to the safety, security and environmental protection of the Straits, as well as to facilitate co-operation in keeping the Straits safe and open to navigation, including exploring the possible options for burden sharing, and to keep the IMO informed, as appropriate, of the outcome of such meetings;
  • That efforts should be made through the three littoral States to establish and enhance mechanisms for information exchange within and between States, building, where possible, on existing arrangements such as Tripartite Technical Expert Group mechanisms, so as to enhance maritime domain awareness in the Straits and thus contribute to the enhancement of co­operative measures in the areas of safety, security and environmental protection;
  • To promote, build upon and expand co-operative and operational arrangements of the three littoral States, including the Tripartite Technical Expert Group on Maritime Security, coordinated maritime patrols in the Straits through, inter alia, ‘maritime security training programmers and other forms of co-operation, such as maritime exercises, with a view to further strengthening capacity building in the littoral States to address security threats to shipping.

Grand Strategy and the Area of Multilateral Co-operation. It was common understanding that the measures to counter maritime threats should be conduct in comprehensive manner,  which  is  comprise  of  several  aspects, either  in  strategic   level or tactical operations. Those are; (i) national interest such as; politic, socio-economic, cultural, and security, (ii) essential elements of the UNSC Resolution 1373/2001, (iii) IMO regulation such as; SOLAS, SUA, ISPS-Code, and (iv) cooperation platform. In short, the whole aspect should be molding in one grand strategy.

In the level of tactical operations, also comprise of various activities which should be conducted in comprehensive manner, but in single management system and adhere to a single goal. Indeed, there is a big area to cooperate with, which can be simplified as follow;

These template, would like to expose the whole modes of operation which can be done by Indonesiaunilaterally, or to cooperate with other parties. From this template also, one could easily to find out about the on going cooperation, such as TTEG, Revolving Fund, ReeCAAP, up to the Eyes in the Sky[1], which have a tendency to support the tactical operations.  In fact, the other three rows (dissuasive, denial, rehabilitation) still widely open for cooperation.

4. Conclusion

It can be concluded that no single country is immune from any act of terror, especially when perpetrators are capable deploying weapons of mass destruction such as biological weapons. No single country  is fully immune from the attacks of anthrax, the bird flu, mad cow (BSE), etc. Crime of modern terrorism know no boundaries, making international co-operation a necessity to fight those heinous crimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, based on common reference, mutual trust and confidence and comprehensive measures on the ground.

In this respect, the Indonesian government is fully aware that all constraints and limitations hampering the Government’s efforts to eradicate terrorist’s threats should serve as a wake up call to improve and enhance all operational aspects.

This implies having an early warning system such as intelligence sharing, improvement of operational readiness and skills, enhancing the reliability of communication systems, and optimizing the use and application of the data bases. All those exigencies can only be achieved through close and mutual co-operation with other parties, with the objective of improving the ability and capability of security forces in protecting the national interests and the interests of the international community within Indonesian territory.

* Prepared forIndonesia—Japan  Dialogue on Ocean Security,20 February  2006, Hotel  Nikko,Jakarta.
[i] The Meeting of three foreign minister (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore) in  Batam on 1-2 August 2005, discussed the matters pertaining to the safety of navigation, environmental protection and maritime security in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The meeting has produced The Batam Joint Statement of the 4th Tripartite Ministerial Meting of the Littoral States on the Straits of Malacca andSingapore. Three points in this paper were taken from that statement..
[ii] In the Jakarta Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore Enhancing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection on 1-8 September 2005, has produced  a statement was known as Jakarta Statement on Enhancing of Safety, Security and Environmental Protection of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Four points in this paper was taken from that statement.
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Captain.Pillai
Captain.Pillai
7 years ago

Good and useful report
During first of the year 2014 piracy in SEA increased by 16%.
Please post a latest report.
Thank you

Captain.Pillai
Captain.Pillai
7 years ago

Good and useful report.
Please send a latest report.
Thank you

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