Sunday 03 Jul 2022 | 07:16 | SYDNEY
Sunday 03 Jul 2022 | 07:16 | SYDNEY

Gulf tanker attack — take two


Rodger Shanahan


18 August 2010 06:41

My previous post concerning claims of an attack against a Japanese tanker in the Straits of Hormuz at the end of July stated that an attack appeared to be a less likely cause of damage to the tanker. It looks like this may have been wide of the mark. Not only has a group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigade) claimed responsibility for the attack, but Emirati authorities have confirmed that they found traces of homemade explosives around the damaged area.''

The incident illustrates the continued strategic aspirations of terrorist planners, but thankfully, from the Christmas underpants bomber through to this latest attack, it also shows that, for the most part, their aspirations exceed their capabilities.

Of concern is the claim that the Abdullah Azzam Brigade's subsidiary, the Yusuf al-Uyayri battalion, launched the attack. Given that the Abdullah Azzam Brigade normally operates in the Sinai and the Levant and that al-Uyayri was one of the original leaders of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) prior to his death in 2003, the claim could indicate one of two things: the attack was really the work of the now Yemen-based AQAP, or that the two organisations are cooperating in mounting regional attacks.

Nothing has been said about the launch point for the attack, although it can really only have come from the UAE, Oman or Iran. Regardless of which country it was launched from, or the relatively amateurish nature of the attack, the fact that it was launched at all will precipitate a rapid change in Gulf countries' maritime security strategies.

Previously concerned with the protection of oil and gas platforms, interdicting people smugglers from South Asia or patrolling disputed territorial waters, the addition of terrorist attacks on oil and gas shipping is going to add another layer of complexity to an already crowded security agenda. And in a strange twist, it is one in which Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours have a common, rather than competing, interest. It will be interesting to see whether this latest attack is able to engender any security cooperation between Tehran and any of the Gulf Arab capitals.