LONDON Ñ Al Qaida could employ ships to transport weapons of mass
destruction or convert the vessels for an attack meant to cause massive
A report by the Rand Corp. warned that sea traffic and shipping
containers could be both the new target and the delivery system of choice for Al Qaida and related groups. Rand,
which produced the report in cooperation with the European Commission,
said an Al Qaida attack on shipping could damage global trade.
"The potential threat of terrorists using containers poses a large risk
to our economies and to our societies," the report said. "Ultimately, this
means that the marine sector Ñ and specifically the container transport
sector Ñ remains wide open to the terrorist threat."
Entitled "Seacurity: A Stakeholder Consultation On Improving The
Security Of The Global Sea Container Shipping System," the report said the
international community has not become sufficiently aware of Al Qaida's
threat at sea. Instead, Rand said, most counter-insurgency efforts have
focused on stopping an attack in the air.
"Since 11 September 2001, the awareness of terrorist actions has clearly
risen," the report said. "This increase, however, has not been as
substantial in all fields as it has been in the air transport sector."
The report identified several obstacles toward supervising sea
containers. They included the difficulty in tracking the route and contents
of containers. Often, the report said, corrupt officials can falsify
documentation and revise the bill of lading.
Less than two percent of all containers are checked to verify their
reported contents, the study said. Rand proposed that the shipper or
receiver be designated as responsible for the content of the container.