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The Resurgence of Sea Piracy in Southeast Asia

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Éric Frécon

Chapter 3. The Various Manifestations of Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia

Index terms

Mots clés :

Asie du Sud-Est

Full text

  • 187 Eric Ellen, “Maritime Crime”, in CBI Bulletin, vol. 26, No. 8, August 1998, p. 15
  • 188 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 135

1Arriving at a consensus on the typology of piracy seems to be as difficult as arriving at a unanimous definition of this phenomenon. Each one’s interest broadly determines the modes of classification. In August 1992, Eric Ellen made a distinction between attacks affecting ships and those targeting goods187. Further, he differentiated between social and commercial threats. On his part, Daniel Perret, researcher in the Ecole française d’Extrême Orient (French School of the Far East), made a distinction between “artisanal” piracy and that which relied on international networks. The former would target the personal effects of the crew and light equipment; the latter would be more interested in freight and fuel188.

2The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) agree on this distinction. Both of them emphasise on the differences, decisive according to them, between piracy stricto sensu, on a large scale targeting the cargo of ships sailing the high seas, and coastal armed robbery. The SSA desires that nations take interest particularly in the first category, pertaining to organised crime and attacks against ships in transit. Besides, it speaks of the risks that threaten the environment in case an oil tanker runs aground.

  • 189 Kwek Siew Jin, Sea Robberies in the Singapore Straits – The RSN Experience, International Seapower (...)

3During a seminar in Newport (United States) in 1995, Kwek Siew Jin, who led the Singaporean Navy, laid emphasis on the duration of the hijacking. He thus brought up distinctions between temporary seizures, detentions of longer duration, “the disappeared boat is detained for several days, the time taken to unload the cargo”, and permanent sequestrations189. The first two cases would be characteristic of the South China Sea; the last would primarily concern Southeast Asia and the Malay Straits.

4As far as typology is concerned, we can hardly consider the nationality of the ships as a criterion of analysis due to the fact that there are many flags of convenience. Except in rare cases (some Chinese pirates exclusively attacked Russian ships), the motivations are more pecuniary than nationalist. This constitutes one of the main differences between piracy and terrorism: the flag does not matter as long as the cargo is taken. We will note however that thirteen ships attacked in 1998 were Malaysian, whichprobably had some influence on the awareness of the phenomenon in Kuala Lumpur. Likewise, it is the number of Japanese ships, subject to pirate attacks which that prompted the Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to moot an international conference on the issue.

  • 190 IMO, 28th February/10th March 1993, p. 14-15
  • 191 Source: www.maritimesecurity.com, June 1999

5As far as the definition is concerned, we will for our part refer to the IMO classification190. Between 15th June 1998 and 15th June 1999, a specialised website termed 84% of the recorded attacks as “random incidents191”. They were cases of “minor armed robbery” (MAR). But 9% of the attacks ended in the capture of cargo (“Armed robbery and aggression of intermediate degree”-ARAID). Finally, 7% of the attacks led to the disappearance of the ship, probably transformed into a “phantom ship” (“serious criminal hijacking”-SCH).

3.1. Minor Piracy (“Minor Armed Robbery”-MAR)

  • 192 Edward Furdson, Mai 1995, p. 166

6“Minor armed robbery” concerns the attacks and robbery that take place in the ports and in the vicinity of the coasts and whose victims are fishermen and yachtsmen. By MAR, the IMO means an opportunistic attack, led along the coasts on small, very rapid boats and perpetrated by bandits (maritime muggers), habitually equipped with knives. They generally target cash locked up in the safe and personal valuables. The value of items stolen most often ranges between 5000 and 15000 dollars192.

  • 193 Muguntan Vanar, “Plunderers from the High Waters”, The Star, 22nd May 2000, p. 10

7In most cases, these pirates originate from the world of seamen. We find in their midst fishermen, sailors, even former soldiers from the Navy, who are therefore perfectly wellinformed about the environment of maritime transport. During the eighties, the Kuala Lumpur police would have identified 24 bands of pirates in the vicinity of Borneo alone193. In 2000, six of them were still sailing (Kumpulan Pipi Uwah,, Kumpulan Sarikal Alihal, Kumpulan Akil Jani, Kumpulan Tandanan, Kumpulan Madjuran and Kumpulan Akil Dewan).

3.1.1. Attacks on ports

  • 194 IMO, January 2000, p. 4

8In Southeast Asia, more than three-quarters of the incidents occur in territorial waters, most often within the ports (at moorage or on the quai)194. This is especially the case in Malaysia, where, in 1999, several incidents occurred on the quais of Bintulu, in the State of Sarawak (to the north of Borneo). In general, men armed with parang (long knives) and pistols board anchored ships with the help of motor boats. A collaboration with the air force should have been envisaged to strengthen the security near the port facilities.

9Despite the efforts of the Singaporean authorities, the Malacca Straits also faced attacks against ships in transit within its ports. This was how in 1998, the navigational equipment of one of the tugs of a French maritime company operating in Southeast Asia was completely dismantled and stolen near the port of Batu Ampar (Batam).

  • 195 Eric Ellen “La Piraterie maritime en 1994”, in Revue internationale de police criminelle, March-Ap (...)
  • 196 Weekly reports available on the site www.icc-ccs.org

10The Manila Bay and the coastal facilities of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are hardly spared, even though the majority of the incidents are never reported. In 1994, it was hoped that the incidents that occurred in the Indonesian ports of Dumai and Surabaya195 for example, were isolated cases. But the weekly reports of the Regional Centre for Piracy in Kuala Lumpur clearly reported the gravity of the phenomenon, warning that “the boats contacting the Indonesian ports of Belawan, Dumai, Merak, Samarinda and Tanjung Priok mentioned numerous attacks (…). Attacks were also reported in Chittagong and Mongla (Bangladesh), as also at Chennai (India). Boats here were victims of thefts of zinc plates welded on the sides or the stern of the ships…”196.

  • 197 Eddie Toh “S’pore-Registered Ship Raided in Colombo Port”, The Shipping Times, 5th January 2000.
  • 198 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee “Any Port in a Storm”, in Eric Ellen (ed.), Ports at Risk, International Cha (...)

11In South Asia, raids led from the west coast of Sri Lanka by organised gangs increased in number197. There too, the boats were often attacked by a small commando of two to five men, often armed only with knives. The attack was often brief, the pirates looking only for money and personal effects198.

Type of attacks reported between 2000 and 2001

Type of attacks reported between 2000 and 2001

Source : International Maritimes Bureau (January 2002 data)

3.1.2. The coastal attacks

  • 199 “Fishermen in Semporna not affected by Abduction Incident in Sipadan”, Utusan Express, 7th May 200

12Fishermen are the main victims of the recurrent piracy in the Malaysian waters. Is it due to lassitude? The fact remains that the acts perpetrated against them are rarely reported199.

13Things are different for the incidents targeting yachts which the Western press does not fail to report. Some fishermen too engage in buccaneering, sometimes reduced to this extremity by the increasing pressure on the environment, the concomitant impoverishment of the fishing resources and the economic crisis which recently shook the region.

14They therefore hunt the small yachts, easy targets for groups without either special equipment or any particular skills. But in 1995, an entire village took control of a 120 foot luxury yacht used for diving in the south of Ambon (in the Moluccas, in Indonesia).

  • 200 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

15At the exact time when dinner was served to the twenty-two guests, fishermen, armed with lances, climbed on board. The chief of the village demanded 10000 dollars. Following a tussle between the crew and the assailants, the worst was finally prevented. The incident would have cost the crew only 500 dollars200.

16Despite the fact that they are relatively rare, these attacks arouse fantasies and some even go to the extent of thinking that there is a pirate slumbering within every inhabitant of Southeast Asia.

  • 201 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

17Strangely enough the weekly magazine Newsweek reported the words of a German yachtsman advising his colleagues against fraternizing with the natives if they did not want to find themselves robbed201. Along the same lines, Voile magazine published in November 1998 an article by Vincent Goudis, also the author of Cap’tain Vagabond (Albin Michel):

  • 202 Vincent Goudis, “Les Risques dans le Sud-Est asiatique”, Voile magazine, November 1998

18“As for Thailand, the fishermen, who can no longer exploit the boat people, now attack yachts more seriously (previously there were only a few rare disappearances). North of New Guinea and Irian Jaya: do not lay anchor, the pirates arrive on boats at night. Coasts of Vietnam: the pirates are real professionals. Between the Indonesian islands: the pirates are very well equipped and attack especially the cargo ships, but be careful, don’t be too confident at night. As for Sulu: do not go there. The pirates are poor, cruel and nobody controls them202”.

  • 203 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, “Any Port in a Storm”, in Eric Ellen (ed.) 1993, p. 294.

19To sum up, the periodical seems to suggest that one should not leave the Grau-du-Roi or Port-Camargue…203. The racing boats themselves felt threatened: an annual race between Darwin (Australia) and Ambon (in the Moluccas) was cancelled in 1999. Only the competitors of the Vendée Globe Challenge, in the latitude below the fifties, seem to be protected.

20Bordering on armed robbery at sea, our “artisan pirates” sometimes venture into more ambitious operations.

  • 204 “Pirates Attack Malaysian Ship”, The Shipping Times, 28th August 2000

21For example: an attack suffered by a Malaysian boat, the Antara dua, and its ten crew members. In August 2000, they were carrying Protons (national car of Malaysia) from Port Klang (near Kuala Lumpur) to Kuching (in Sarawak, in Eastern Malaysia). Nine pirates, armed with machetes, boarded the ship early in the morning to lay their hands on 7200 ringitts (around 1900 euros), a television, mobile telephones, watches, shoes and clothes204.

3.2. Organised Piracy (“Armed Robbery and Agression of Intermediate Degree”-ARAID)

  • 205 Edward Furdson, May 1995, p. 166

22This involves violent action aiming at pillage or theft of boats on the high seas or on territorial waters. This practice is not as common as armed robbery at sea, but is more likely to upset navigation insofar as the crew is overpowered for a longer time whereas the boat is not immobilised. In order to be thus categorised, the attacks must be led by wellorganised gangs, usually heavily armed. The distinction is therefore made according to the identity of the pirates. It may be a question of rebels from the national army who act from a boat205 which serves as a base or a port. The bands are sometimes affiliated to a local personality. In this case, they act as private militia.

BOARDING INCIDENT 5: “MYSTERIOUS” ACCIDENTS
- North-eastern region of Borneo, Mahakam river delta.
“On account of the heavy traffic of petroleum equipment moving along this coast, large-scale operations may be led by the pirates. This is how one of our barges, in perfect condition, capsized while the sea was perfectly calm. We never knew the exact location of the shipwreck, but the barge, miraculously righted itself and came back to its home base.
“As for the cargo of pipes that could have easily been recovered, as the depth of the waters in this region was not more than fifteen metres, it had completely disappeared. We are totally convinced that it was an act of piracy rather than a shipwreck. It was an operation conducted with huge resources: barge, crane, experienced crew …”
- Island of Madura, opposite the port of Surabaya (East-Java):
“The Strait that forms the island of Madura with the East Coast of Java is reputed for its acts of piracy. From among thirty barges approximately, one was deliberately driven onto a beautiful sandy beach which was easy to access. The covered cargo consisted of 18-meters steel beams, each weighing thirty tons. Unfortunately for the pirates, the booty was beyond their logistic means.
“The tragedy is that there is no recourse against deliberate running aground of a ship. In the case of conventional acts of piracy, a simple police report allows us to get the insurers of the cargo owners to intervene. But in this particular case, absolutely no investigation was undertaken either by the police or the authorities.” (Testimony, of a French officer of a maritime company recorded on 13th November 2000)

  • 206 Samuel P. Menefee, “Violence at Sea”, Jane’s Defense, 1997, p. 100.
  • 207 Samuel P. Menefee, 1997, p. 100.

23Following a drastic reduction in the forces, former Vietnamese servicemen turned to piracy to compensate the loss of their job by attacking ships206, just like the soldiers in Athens, after the Peloponnesian war when it started to decline (5th century B.C.). In Europe, the Greenpeace’s British office even proposed the services of ex-servicemen skilled in the handling of explosives. They were trying to reorient themselves, believing that they had found an opportunity in the development of environmentalist militancy in the maritime milieu207.

3.2.1. The attacks in the South China Sea

24During the nineties, the number of testimonies pertaining to acts of piracy perpetrated by individuals who bore a striking resemblance to the soldiers of the People’s Army was so high that the Chinese army was accused. At the end of 1999, the British Foreign Office explained that launches loaded with men in uniform were forcing ships sailing the seas to enter Chinese territorial waters in order to be able to accuse them of smuggling.

  • 208 Gilbert Rochu, “Les Pirates high-tech préfèrent les mers chaudes”, Marianne, 29th November 1999
  • 209 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 128

25Only upon the payment of a heavy fine were the boats allowed to go on their way208. In October 1997, the Vosa Carrier from Hong Kong was hijacked near Huilai (Guangdong) by a Chinese launch209. The pirates rapidly seized the money and got a document signed by the crew in which they acknowledged that they were engaged in smuggling operations. The Captain was subpoenaed to appear in Huilai and the containers were confiscated. The boat and the crew were finally released following payment of a fine of 100000 dollars to the police.

BOARDING INCIDENT 6: CHINESE NETWORK?
“A ship loomed before us. It resembled a trawler and was painted dark grey. I veered to starboard to give way to it, as required by the regulations of navigation at sea, but the ship followed us for around hundred metres on the port side. There were about ten armed men in uniform on the bridge. There was also a crane with a small boat equipped with two powerful motors, clearly meant for a pirate attack. These individuals signaled to us and whistled to us to stop, which I naturally did not do, as we were on international waters. After having changed course a number of times still without telling us who they were, they disappeared in the direction of the south. The nearest land was at Luzon in the Philippines (…) Insignia resembling Chinese insignia were painted on the ship which was flying a Red Flag. The uniforms seemed to be Chinese, but may have been false. All this lasted around thirty minutes.” (Eric Ellen, March-April 1994, p. 2)

3.2.2. The attacks in the Malay world

  • 210 Harold Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, London, Cornell University Press, 1978; also re (...)
  • 211 John Vagg, 1998
  • 212 Peter Chalk, 1997, p. 35

26The Indonesian army has long been accused of all kinds of trafficking210. In 1995, a little before the resignation of President Suharto and the decline of his orde baru (the new order), the provincial military commanders were entrusted with extended powers that allowed them particularly to dominate civil administration. Their contacts with the local business world were facilitated, a fact that allowed them also to engage in economic activities that sometimes bordered on illegality. Some even took advantage of the situation by engaging in veritable acts of piracy211. It seems, in addition, that many attacks associated real criminals with commandos of the Navy212. These men of the Indonesian army, probably in active service, would have allowed the pirates to seize cargos and then transfer them quickly.

27It is still too soon to know if the efforts undertaken by the Indonesian Government of Abdurrehman Wahid (also known by the name of Gus Dur) to control the army more efficiently have really borne fruit and if these efforts continued with the same intensity since Megawati Sukarno Putri’s nomination as Head of State (23rd July 2001). The tie-ups between certain local potentates and pirate bands are in any case too tight to be undone easily.

  • 213 S. Marshall, “Dire Need to Address Root Causes of the Mindano Conflict”, The New Straits Times, 27(...)

28Likewise, south of the Philippines, due to the main conflict between the State and the secessionists, the inhabitants have had to compromise with the private militia. Now, in the rural provinces, the members of surveillance committees, usually linked with the army, very often act as substitutes for the administration in place. Thanks to the means available to them, pirates, smugglers or even arms traffickers constitute a veritable economic elite213.

29Although they reveal the problems faced today by the Indonesian army, and to a smaller degree by its Filipino counterpart, the acts of piracy involving military units as such remain marginal in Southeast Asia. And though criticised, the institutions entrusted with the maintenance of law and order, nonetheless get significant results.

30On 12th October 2000, three men around 25 years of age were arrested by the Malaysian police. They were accused of about thirty attacks which brought them more than 260000 dollars. A fast boat and knives were seized.

31On 23rd October, during an ambush along the Klebang Kecil beach, the police defeated the chief of a pirate syndicate and arrested four of his accomplices. The latter were surprised while in the process of loading smuggled motorbikes on board a boat en route to Sumatra. Twelve other interrogations followed and, since then, the number of attacks would have reduced considerably. It seems that the Malaysian authorities, who had declared a while ago that they had important information in their possession, had waited for the international meeting in Kuala Lumpur in November 2000 to act…

32Better equipped than simple fishermen, sometimes having links with the business world or corrupt officials, these bands are nowhere near having the power of the mafia and other triads who can engage in large-scale trafficking through the technique of kapal bantu in Indonesian or phantom ship.

3.3. International Piracy (“Serious Criminal Hijacking”-SCH)

  • 214 Edward Furdson, May 1995, p. 166

33Hergé, in Le Crabe aux pinces d’or (Crab with the golden claws), touches upon the tricky problem of the hijacking of merchant ships, when Captain Haddock’s Karaboudjan is renamed Djebel Amilah. But in order to apprehend the question of SCH in its totality, we should not only take into account its forms (" planned international criminal activities taking advantage of important resources, using large gangs of well-trained and heavily armed men, fully prepared to use firearms”) but we should also look into its consequences (“disappearance of ships hijacked and renamed in order to engage in illegal traffickingphenomenon which today is called “phantom ship "”)214.

  • 215 Eric Ellen, March-April 1994, p. 5

34A hijacking always occurs in the same manner. Broadly, we find the schema traced by Eric Ellen, director of the IMB215.

35First stage: the capture of a ship. It is then that the act of piracy stricto sensu comes into play. The techniques of boarding are classical: throwing of grapnel, overpowering the crew and ransacking as a rule.

36Then, the criminals disguise the boat while the cargo is hijacked. Following this, the vessel receives a new registration, granted by the maritime bureau of a consulate (often of the Honduras or Panama) in a city of the Far East (Bangkok, Singapore). There are many arrangements possible, which are more or less legal.

37The next stage: the sale of the boat to a shipper in a hurry. East Asia has witnessed a rapid increase in trade. In some areas, the demand is higher than supply as far as maritime transport is concerned. It so happens that a supplier holding a documentary credit which has almost expired is urgently looking for a ship.

  • 216 Receipt for goods despatched by sea or river routes

38Thanks to their network of agents, the criminal organisations of the region are informed of the requirements. They propose one of their boats. The shipper seizes the opportunity, ships his cargo and receives his Bill of Lading216.

39It is now time for the second hijacking. Instead of heading for the destination indicated on the Bill of Lading, the ship heads for a port known only to the pirates. Here, they hand over the cargo to an accomplice or a bona fide buyer. Then to avoid any police intervention, the ship changes registration and appearance.

40The boat can then receive another cargo load. The operation can even be repeated a number of times. In the end, if it is not found, the phantom ship may be sold once more to an unscrupulous ship owner, used as a den by the pirates, sold as scrap, unless it begins a second career in the smuggling of arms, clandestine immigration or drug trafficking.

  • 217 Jean Claude Pomonti, Le Monde, 26th October 1995

BOARDING INCIDENT 7: THE CASE OF THE ANNA SIERRA
The action takes place in 1995.
12th September at 14:20: the Anna Sierra, which is sporting the Cyprus flag, leaves Bangkok. On board, a cargo of 12000 tons of sugar meant for Guangxi Autonomous Quisxing Enterprises of Beihai, whose value amounts to around three million dollars. The crew comprises twenty-three men. The ship is expected at Manila on 17thSeptember.
13th September, 0:20, at the position 11°15N-102°00E (Gulf of Thailand): the attack is on. It is led from a launch by thirty hooded men, dressed shabbily, armed with pistols, submachine guns and knives. All of them wear a mask, except their chief. Very quickly, the pirates begin to repaint the signboards of the hold in grey, the lower half of the masts and the kingposts in black. Handcuffed, the crew is confined for two days in two rooms.
15th September, at position 08°20N-107°14E (off the coast of the Vietnamese island of Con Son): the threat of being “thrown to the sharks” is made to eight sailors when the second in command, who had succeeded in hiding, is discovered. His superior begs the pirates for clemency and gives them his gold wedding ring before they chop his finger off. Eight sailors are set adrift on a makeshift boat. Despite the stormy sea, the rest of the crew is ordered to jump onto a life raft. In the distance, as the Anna Sierra moves away, the launch which had led the attack leaves again with half the number of pirates, food and the personal effects that were stolen.
16th September: all the sailors are found by Vietnamese fishermen. But the ship is no longer called the Anna Sierra. It has been baptized Artic Sea which is an exotic name in these latitudes.
20th September, 10 a.m. the Artic Sea is anchored at quai number 4 of the port of Beihai, in the province of Guangxi in South China. The clearing and forwarding agent will specify later that he had not received the ETA (estimated time of arrival) but only a notification from Hong Kong, from a certain Captain Bekas. False documents had been sent by courier to Penavico, the C & F agent, just before the arrival of the ship. The crew consists thereafter of twelve men (ten Indonesians and two Malaysians) who claim to have entered Thailand through Bangkok Airport on 7th August. According to the IMB, they would in fact be the pirates who had carried out the attack on 13th September. At this point, the IMB invited the Thai authorities to investigate Artic Gold Navigation Inc, supposedly incorporated in Bangkok.
This enterprise claims that the Artic Sea, registered in the Honduras, loaded its cargo in Santos, in Brazil, in December 1994, a claim that would have been credible if each bag of sugar had not been stamped “Thailand”217. As they had done for the Petro Ranger, (refer to Boarded Incident 4), the Chinese authorities demanded a heavy sum (400000 dollars) for the restitution of the ship which still did not leave the beaches of South China… (Testimony reported in the “L’Incroyable odysée de l’Anna Sierra”, Le Marin, 29th December 1995)

  • 218 AP, “BC-Singapore-Pirates 1st Ld-Writethru”, FAP, 5th October 2000
  • 219 “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, The Economist, 18th December 1999

41In September 2000, Noel Choong, of the Regional Piracy Centre, estimated that the hijackers of an average cargo load could make a profit of two to three million dollars218. With the utilisation that could be made of the ship, and then its resale, a phantom ship could, in a good year, bring between forty and fifty million dollars to the criminal organisation that hijacked it219.

42Pirates generally avoid organising hijackings in their country of origin. Honourable merchants of some standing, they restrict their illicit activities to territories falling under another jurisdiction. This screen makes it very difficult to combat criminality.

43In May 2000, Captain Pottengal Mukundan of the IMB estimated that there were five or six gangs run by big businessmen heading shipping companies. They are, for the moment, protected against the extraditions laid down by the 1988 Rome Convention, as they reside in countries which did not ratify it. The text in fact facilitates extradition in cases where there is a threat to maritime security.

44In 1999, the MT Siam Xanxai with seventeen persons on board left Singapore loaded with petroleum for Songkhla in Thailand.

45On 8th June 1999, a little before midnight, it was attacked by two launches near the Tioman islands, in the waters off the South-east coasts of Malaysia. The pirates, armed with pistols and knives could not prevent one sailor from escaping on a little boat. He was later rescued by the fishermen of Sibu (near Borneo), as were the other crew members, abandoned by the pirates at sea.

46The MT Siam Xanxai was traced in mid-July under the name of Auo Me 2, in a port of the Guangdong province, in South China.

47According to Xie Yongpeng, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Public Safety of Shantou, the leader of the Indonesian pirates would have attacked the ship at the order of a resident of Singapore.

48The same year, the MV Marine Master flying the Panaman flag was found in Fangcheng, another port in South China. It was then called the Nuovo Tierra and flew the flag of the Honduras. Headed for Calcutta from Nantong on 1st March 1999 with a cargo of soda on board, it made a halt in Singapore two weeks later.

49On 17th March, on the Andaman Sea, twenty pirates, some of whom were clad in military uniforms, boarded the ship from two fishing boats and a launch. All of them were wearing masks and were equipped with pistols. The crew members had sit in two fishing boats in the company of around ten criminals. Four days later, the bandits abandoned them on a small raft from which they were rescued nearly a week later. When the ship was traced at Fancheng, thanks to an alert sent out by the IMB, fourteen Burmese found on board were arrested by the Chinese authorities and the boat returned to its owner.

  • 220 Dorinda Elliott, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999
  • 221 “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, The Economist, 18th December 1999

50In late 1999, it was in China that traces of a large majority of stolen ships were found. There, the dubious vessels desirous of selling questionable goods found favourable conditions and partners who hardly seemed concerned by the need to respect international regulations. In some Southern ports, the triads would even have bought out some highly placed government officials of the Port administration so that they stop questioning the veracity of the furnished documents220. In the IMB’s jargon, they furnish what is called “noquestions-asked commodities221. The most accused port is that of Beihai, between Hong Kong and the island of Hainan. Further to the north, the special economic zone of Xiamen also caused eyebrows to be raised…

  • 222 “La Chute du roi de la contrebande”, Courrier international, no 84, 10th February 2000, p. 40-41.

51The following year, 300 investigators sent by Prime Minister Zhu to Fujian arrested nearly 200 local worthies. Suspected of having accepted the bribes from Lai Changxing in order to permit him to clandestinely import arms, crude petroleum, cars as also petrochemical by-products, they were given heavy sentences222. It should be said that they would have set up the most important smuggling network discovered since 1949. Thanks, among others, to the usage of “phantom ships”, more than ten billion dollars worth of goods would possibly have been exchanged.

  • 223 Robert Redmond, “Phantom Ships in the Far East”, in Intersec, vol. 6, no 5, May 1996, p. 169

52Various clues enable the detection of a “phantom ship”223: registration in the Honduras or Panama, a fifteen to twenty year old boat, suspicious details in the registration, late arrival in the loading ports, unanswered radio calls, Burmese, Indonesian or Filipino crew, absence of mail in the loading port, commission paid to the broker or even transfer of funds into personal accounts to pay transport expenses.

  • 224 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999
  • 225 Hélène Vissière, “Mer de Chine: Sur la route des pirates”, Le Point, no 1419, 26th November 1999
  • 226 Dorinda Elliott, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999.

BOARDING INCIDENT 8: THE TENYU, AND THE KOREAN CONNECTIONS
On 27th September 1998, the Tenyu, a Japanese ship flying a Panaman flag, lifted anchor from the port of Kuala Tanjung, to the north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, on course to Inchon in South Korea, with a load of aluminium on board. The ship surfaced, minus the crew (which would never be found), three months later, after a mad voyage across the “Asian Mediterranean”. It was apprehended in the Chinese port of Zhangjiagang, carrying palm oil and an Indonesian crew. Its hull then bore the name Sanei 1 and it was flying the Honduran flag. The cargo ship had disappeared on 28th September in the heart of the Malacca Straits where the ship was renamed Vittoria to be hijacked once more, this time towards Rangoon, in Burma. It would then be called the Hannah (10th November 1998) in order to head towards Puerto Princesa in the Philippines, and later Scarlet to make the journey, on 24th November 1998, to Pasir Gudang to transport palm oil. It was then renamed Sanei 1 and sailed towards Dumai in Indonesia.
Four South Koreans connected to this affair were finally convicted224. The captain of the Tenyu, who had recruited the Indonesian sailors through a company in Singapore, was arrested in the island-city before being extradited to South Korea. There, he was accused of buying the boat and the aluminium from two Sino-Indonesians before handing over the cargo to a Chinese company for 4.3 million dollars. Lee Dong Gul – that was his name-, got only three years in prison as there was no proof of his involvement in the attack on the ship225. According to the Prosecutor Kwak Gyu Hong, who complained of the slowness of the investigation in the various countries concerned, a second mastermind behind the operation would be residing in Singapore. In 1999, another 46 year old South Korean, Kim Tae Kuk, who was serving a sentence in Hong Kong, was questioned. At the time of the crime, he was part of the company that owned the Tenyu. He would even have officiated as captain on board the “phantom ship”226. Sixteen Indonesian pirates who had also been interrogated were released.
It was learnt in May 2000 that a pirate found on board the Alondra Rainbow (refer to Boarding Incident 10) in November 1999 had served on the Tenyu and two others responsible for the hijacking had already participated in that of the Anna Sierra, thereby proving that international pirate networks clearly existed.

3.4. Para-Piracy

53Apart from piracy stricto sensu classified into three distinct categories by the IMO since 1993, it is only proper to mention two types of crime that are closely linked to the nautical world. For political organisations, piracy often represents a means of financing their main activities.

  • 227 On this subject, see especially Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy and Joël Meissonnier Yaa Baa – Production, tr (...)
  • 228 IMO, Report of the IMO, Working Group on the Malacca Strait Area, IMO, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ja (...)

54During the meeting of the ARF in Bombay in October 2000, India, probably worried by the maritime activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), tried in vain to get terrorist activities at sea classified as a form of piracy. But, for want of a consensus, the pirates could not be likened to drug traffickers, plentiful in the vicinity of the Indochinese peninsula227 – or to traffickers of arms, like those who sail the waters of Sri Lanka or Aceh. In its report in 1993, the IMO has however devoted a specific paragraph to terrorist involvement in certain pirate attacks228.

3.4.1. Attacks on villages

55Contrary to classical piracy, one part of para-piracy generally occurs on land, whether it takes the form of attacks on administrative or commercial establishments or on individuals. The hostage-taking, in late April 2000 on the island of Sipadan (between the coasts of Sabah and the Philippines) was particularly publicised, but it was far from being an isolated case. Jimlan Panglima, in charge of the security of Semporna near the island of Sipadan, reminded the Malaysian Star that his village had been attacked at least four times during the last fifteen years.

  • 229 “Locals Now Get to Sleep Soundly”, The Star, 9th May 2000

56The article concluded that it was not a question of random acts of piracy, but that of “rampant” piracy229. It should be noted, besides, that 600 men of the GOF (General Operating Force) are posted on around thirty-five islands of the Sulu archipelago, the majority in the vicinity of the maritime frontier of the Philippines.

57Despite the legal ambiguity that surrounds them, the case of pirate raids against certain coastal villages cannot be ignored. Semporna, a small town in the Province of Sabah in the Malaysian side of Borneo was pillaged and placed under the thumb of pirates in 1952 and in 1954.

The major pirate ports

The major pirate ports

58In September 1985, a little further to the north, Lahad Datu was in its turn attacked by about fifty pirates who took control of the city for around an hour. Ten people fell victim to this attack.

  • 230 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 135

59At mid-day, the pirates disembarked, equipped with arms. The people took them for police forces. Gunfire erupted at the port. The pirates blocked access to the city, robbed a bank and then withdrew on hearing the Muezzin’s call for prayer from the mosque230.

  • 231 “Semporna: Land of Many islands”, Utusan Express, 27th April 2000.

60In September 1995, fifteen armed pirates killed eleven people in order to make away with 190000 ringitts (55000 euros) at the Standard Chartered Bank, in a city of Eastern Sabah. Not far from there, in the Semporna area, six pirates disembarked in February 1996. They threw indigenous bombs meant to be used for fishing by explosion on the police station before stealing a work of art in gold set with precious stones worth 100000 ringitts (approximately 29000 euros)231.

61In March 1996, again in Semporna, eight armed men robbed a jeweller’s store, swiping a booty estimated at 200000 ringitts (58000 euros). One of the thieves was killed, two others arrested, but the Police Station in this seaside resort still bears the stigma of these attacks. On 23rd June 1996, the police opened fire on eight pirates who had robbed a fisherman near the island of Omadal. Seven other pirates were killed in 1998 during a robbery attempt in a supermarket in Tawau (Eastern Sabah).

  • 232 Muguntan Vanar, “A Hostage’s Story”, The Star, 22nd May 2000
  • 233 “Gunmen Abduct 20”, The New Straits Times, 25th April 2000

BOARDING INCIDENT 9: ISLAND OF DREAMS FOR PIRATE NIGHTMARE
In January 1999, a young man of Kampung Bangau-Bangau in Malaysia, who normally transported tourists interested in diving in the waters around the neighbouring islands, fell victim to a pirate attack between the islands of Mabul and Kepayan. The eight criminals who strongly resembled Sulus asked him to head for the island of Ligitan. Then he walked long hours in the jungle before reaching a village in Jolo, on one of the 157 islands of the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines. There, a group of about fifty heavily armed men were waiting. He was freed a few days later232.
On 24thApril 2000, 21 people, twelve of whom were Westerners, were taken hostage while visiting the island of Sipadan, reputed for the natural beauty of its underwater world. The technique of the Abu Sayyaf Group is reminiscent of the raids of olden times. At 7:30 p.m., the bandits surfaced, before leaving forty-five minutes later, with their hostages whom they took to the island of Jolo. There were six criminals, armed with AK-47 submachine guns and a bazooka and dressed in camouflage233. The demands and the ransom were soon made public. The ransom was first set at 2.63 million dollars for all the victims and then at a million per Western hostage. At the same time, they demanded the release of Ramzi Yousef, incarcerated following the first attack against the World Trade Center which, in February 1993, had resulted in the death of 6 people and had injured nearly a thousand.
The hostages, including a French television crew, were freed one by one in September 2000 after many months of captivity and just before an offensive by the Filipino army.

3.4.2. Piracy and Hostage-taking

62Hostage-taking is generally linked to economic motives, but they occur most often in an unstable political context. The incidents in the southern part of the Philippines constitute a concrete example.

63Already on 14th June 1999, two Belgians had been kidnapped on their yacht while on their way to Zamboanga on the island of Santa Cruz in the Sulu archipelago. The Islamic Front of Moro Liberation (FILM) which is fighting for the independence of South Philippines was immediately accused. But can one truly consider this movement as one of piracy?

64Doubts also linger as to the real nature of the hostage-taking of the 21 Western tourists by the Abu Sayyaf group in April 2000. Apparently marked by a strong political tinge, as is illustrated by the demand for the liberation of Islamic militants, this attack would only perpetuate an age-old pirate tradition founded on kidnapping and ransom.

  • 234 Florence Compain, “Jolo sous la glaive d’Abu Sayyaf”, Le Figaro, 6-7th May 2000, p. 3

65The Abu Sayyaf group had never really been credible at a strictly political level. The fact that to this list of demands was added the visit of Robin Padilla, a Filipino actor who specialized in the role of teenage rebels certainly did not help the reputation of the movement which consisted essentially of very young people234.

  • 235 Bunn Nagara, “Rescuers Groping in the Dark”, The Star, 30th April 2000.
  • 236 Philippe Pons, “Les Rebelles philippins exigent une médiation étrangère”, Le Monde, 30th April 200 (...)

66Besides, rather than becoming a real movement, Abu Sayyaf has become, over these last few years, just a label used by a number of distantly linked sub-groups235. According to Nur Misuari, historical leader of the National Front of Moro Liberation, once Governor of the province before being incarcerated for rebellion, we would find ourselves facing veritable “modern Robin Hoods” who defend the people fallen victim to centuries of exploitation, war, famine and poverty236.

67In fact, one finds here a modern day version of what Ghislaine Loyré, specialist on the region, wrote on the subject of the Sulu pirates in the 19th century:

  • 237 Ghislaine Loyré, 1991

68“Certainly, some ventures may have been prompted by strategic reasons, but the strongest incentive was the taking of booty. (…) In fact, [the pirates] would have acknowledged the authority of only those expedition chiefs capable of leading them. (…) Originally from Mindanao, they gradually moved towards the territory of Sulu and even towards Sabah. (…) In certain years, nearly a thousand people were taken in this manner237.”

  • 238 Eric Frécon, “A Jolo de vrais pirates”, Libération, 10th August 2000, p. 5

69Let us now dare to reposition this hostage-taking in a larger debate. Would the incidents that took place on the island of Jolo in 2000 and 2001 herald a tendency the world over to associate terrorism in general and Islamist Terrorism in particular to more traditional forms of delinquency, maritime piracy being one of them238?

  • 239 H’mida Layachi, “Banditisme et islamisme armé vont aujourd’hui de paire en Algérie” (interview, Le (...)
  • 240 Gille Kepel, Jihad, expansion et déclin de l’islamisme, Gallimard, Paris, 2000

70In June 2000, a specialist on Algerian armed groups referred to the emergence in North Africa of a solid link between large scale crime and some fundamentalist groups. The primary cause for this could be the assumption of power by young leaders lacking either political or theological education. As in the case of Abu Sayyaf, these young troops would no longer share the same political or religious convictions239. Gilles Kepel, of course before the 11th September 2001 attacks, even saw in this situation the emergence of an era of “postislamism240”.

71Since the year 2000, Kuala Lumpur stepped up efforts to cleanse its coasts of piracy. The Malaysian maritime police was thus given much more efficient equipment. In 2001 and during the first half of 2002, the IMB did not report more than 17 and 9 incidents respectively in the Malacca Straits.

72However, the attacks, though fewer in number, are more and more oriented towards human targets. The incidents of hostage-taking increased in the north of the Malacca Straits, in the areas disputed by Indonesia and Malaysia. The victims were very often fishermen.

  • 241 “Hijackings by Pirates, not Filipino Soldiers”, The Star, 29th June 2001
  • 242 “Pirates Hijack Two Ships, Hold Captain for Ransom”, The Business Times, 26th June 2001

73On 12th and 13th June 2001, four fishing boats and one tug were attacked by small armed groups in the waters of Sabah, not far from Sandakan. For each hostage, a ransom ranging between 5000 and 25000 ringitts (between 1400 and 7300 euros approximately) was demanded and paid241. A few weeks later at Butterworth, to the north of the Malaysian peninsula, the captain of the Tirta Niaga was kidnapped and then held somewhere on the island of Sumatra242.

  • 243 Foong Thim Leng, “Fishermen Facing Piracy Threat”, The Star, 5th July 2001

74In July, a crew of fishermen was released not far from Aceh, after three weeks of captivity in the jungle and the payment of a ransom of 60000 ringitts to the Indonesian kidnappers243. When four of its sailors were kidnapped and taken to Jolo, a Singaporean maritime company finally decided that they would no longer sail the Sulu Sea. This measure was interpreted by the Port Authorities and the industrialists of the region as a signal that their trading associates could easily desert them if they were not guaranteed better safety.

75Further to the north, Thailand too is confronted with piracy founded on the taking of hostages. The IMB report for the year 2000 refers to the kidnapping of Malaysian fishermen. It is likely that the band responsible for these kidnappings used the nearby islands of Satun, in the extreme south of the kingdom, as a base. In April of the same year, fishermen were captured in the Gulf of Thailand and then transferred to the island of Milio. The pirates were able to add to their booty (thirty tons of fish, navigational equipment, nine radios and personal effects) the 10000 dollars that the owner of the boat had accepted to pay by way of ransom. The State is bypassed here, ignored, such is the disbelief in its capacity to intervene.

  • 244 Vu Kim Chung, “Exercise to Combat Piracy”, in www.geocities.com, 16th November 1999.

76In November 1999, a Thai Admiral recalled that piracy and kidnappings also represented a real problem along the Cambodian border. Ransoms here often exceed 400 000 bahts per boat (9200 euros). Some have gone to the extent of suspecting the involvement of corrupt elements of the Cambodian Navy244.

3.4.3. Maritime piracy and freedom movements

77The LTTE of Sri Lanka widely resorts to armed robbery at sea. Is it due to the origins of its chiefs, natives of Velvettithurai and originating for the most part from the fisher folk, or is it simply the consequence of the fact that the country is an island?

78Whatever be the case, the maritime dimension of the struggle of the Tamil Tigers cannot be ignored. Let us keep in mind the suspicions that surround the autonomist organisation, accused by some as having used the Alondra Rainbow, hijacked off the coast of Sumatra, for drug trafficking (see Boarding Incident 10).

  • 245 Jean-Paul Pancracio, Droit international des espaces, Armand Colin, Paris, 2001, p. 681
  • 246 “Pirates Nabbed with Force”, The Shipping Times, 19th November 1999
  • 247 “Asian Pirates Sell Arms to LTTE”, Sunday Times, 21st November 1999

BOARDING INCIDENT 10: FROM MANILA TO GOA, THE ASTONISHING ODYSSEY OFTHE ALONDRA
The Alondra Rainbow, like the Tenyu (refer to Boarding Incident 7), left the port of Kuala Tanjung (in the north of Sumatra) heading for Miike (in Japan). This brand-new cargo ship weighing 7762 tons, sporting the Panaman flag, lifted anchor on 22nd October1999 with seventeen sailors on board – two Japanese and fifteen Filipinos – and 7000 tons of aluminium. It was attacked two hours later by around ten masked Indonesians. Not very long afterward it was joined by an old boat into which the crew was transferred before being abandoned in the midst of the Andaman Sea a week later, and then it was found on 8th November by Thai fishermen.
Meanwhile, a reward of 100000 dollars was promised to those who would help locate the ship. The Indian authorities received the information and immediately dispatched a patrol plane. The Alondra Rainbow was found and pursued by the Coast-guard who wanted to intercept it, west of Ponnani. They wished to apply in this situation Article 105 of the Montego Bay Convention which is one of the noteworthy exceptions to the principle of exclusivity of jurisdiction of the state under whose flag the ship sails. “Acts of piracy [on the high seas] are subject to a sort of actio popularis, in other words, to the right of intervention of any State, and thus of any flag, with the aim of pursuit, verification and possibly repression245”.
The ship, renamedMega Rama and flying the flag of Belize was stopped and inspected. The pirates tried in vain to set fire to the ship before trying to sink it. On board, only a portion of the cargo remained246. The pursuit thus came to a halt on the 16th November at around 170 miles from Goa in India.
Despite the damages incurred, the ship could then be towed. Citing article 105 of the Montego Bay Convention, the Indian authorities declared that they wished to prosecute the wrongdoers. However, as not all the provisions of the Montego Bay Convention had been integrated into the Indian Penal Code, the investigation proved difficult.
On 21st November 1999, quoting the New Indian Express, the Sunday Times suggested that the ten pirates of the Alondra Rainbow would have bartered 3000 tons of aluminium for arms and ammunition. The exchange would have taken place in Cambodia, then the hub of arms trafficking. After Cambodia, the pirates would have dropped anchor at Thailand before going on like others before them to Sri Lanka247.
In July 2000, in its half-yearly report, the IMB put forward a new hypothesis. The National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippines (National Bureau in charge of investigations, similar to the American FBI) in fact discovered 3000 tons of aluminium originating from theAlondra Rainbow in a warehouse near Manila. The aluminium ingots carried the INAL brand, confirming that they indeed originated, like the hijacked cargo, from the Indonesian Asahan Aluminium. The owner of the warehouse maintained that he had bought this aluminium in good faith from a company based in Malaysia. For all that, the clearance of the cargo through customs, a month after the hijacking of the Alondra Rainbow, could have been possible only with the help of falsified documents. The IMB concluded that an organised crime syndicate could have been involved in the affair. There is also talk of the complicity of persons close to the Filipino powers-that-be.

  • 248 R. Anand, “Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker off Tioman”, The Sun, 17th June 1999, p. A 10

79On 25th May 1999, the Sik Yang, a Malaysian boat, was lost off the west coast of Sri Lanka shortly after having left the Indian port of Tuticorin248. Immediately, the Tamil separatists who were trying to control these waters to establish their sovereignty there came to mind.

  • 249 Rohan Gunaratna, “Sea Tiger Success Threatens the Spread of Copycat Tactics”, Jane’s Intelligence (...)

80The LTTE is especially suspected because its organisation and its maritime arsenal are impressive. Its capabilities are far superior to those of traditional pirates. The maritime operations of the Tamil rebels are managed by a structure which is divided into twelve departments: regiments for surface attacks, underwater demolition teams, commandos for infiltrations from the sea, the section in charge of the construction and the maintenance of the equipment, the surveillance and telecommunication units, the units in charge of the arms repository, a naval school which organises around fifteen hours of teaching per day, a recruitment group, a political and financial section, a logistics support team, reconnaissance units and finally social security249.

  • 250 “Trends in Maritime Terrorism – The Sri Lanka Case, in Lanka Outlook, Autumn 1998.

81The 3000 odd “Sea Tigers” are recruited from among the Tamil fishermen and smugglers who have a perfect knowledge of the sea. Thanks to them, some groups of the LTTE were able to acquire a real aptitude for sailing both on the high seas as well as near the coasts250. They even have a suicide marine commando unit-the “Black Sea Tigers”. It should also be noted that there is, in the LTTE, a combat team of swimmers which has conducted several raids against anchored Sri Lankan ships.

  • 251 “LTTE-Le Poids exceptionel des opérations navales”, p. 744-745, in Jean-Marc Balencie, Arnaud de l (...)

82In 1999, the movement would have had several hundreds of lightweight fibreglass boats, armed with machine guns and rocket launchers and equipped with powerful motors permitting them to attain speeds greater than 30 knots (around 55 km/hour). The objective was to rapidly cross the Palk Straits and bring men and supplies from the coasts of Tamil Nadu to the areas held by the Tigers251. Five or six ships sporting foreign flags would also have served to transport arms and equipment.

  • 252 Rohan Gunaratna, “Sea Tiger Success Threatens the Spread Copycat Tactics”, Jane’s Intelligence Rev (...)

83Finally in 2001, the sea Tigers would have wanted to procure a submarine from South Africa and ten, of more modest size, from North Korea. Another investigation showed that other military equipment such as 107 mm rockets, 60 mm mortars and especially stealthy motor boats propelled by 200 hp motors had been delivered by Pyong Yang252.

84The seas to the Northeast of the island were declared by the rebels as “the territorial waters of the Tamil Eelam”. Thus, each ship not belonging to the separatist movement could be targeted.

85Some ports too were attacked. Here there is no petty crime as in the great Southeast Asian archipelagos, only the destruction of a few ships matters. In April 1996, there was an attack on the port of Colombo during which three foreign ships were affected. On 19th April 1995, the assault against two Sri Lankan patrol ships, on the way to Trincomalee, had marked the beginning of what is called “the Third Tamil War”. The attack had been led by several combat swimmers, one of whom was a woman. The attack on the MV Cordiality, while it was anchored less than a mile from Pulmoddai, can be added to this list. The rebels attacked the ship while it was being loaded. Thirty-three sailors were killed. The confrontation with the Sri Lankan patrolmen led to a real naval battle.

86We also note the taking of hostages as in the summer of 1997, when the victims were thirty-two Muslim fishermen as also twenty-two boats. But what is important is the attacks against ships at sea. In August 1996, a ship registered in the Philippines, the MV Princess Wave, became the target of the Tamil rebels while they were transporting a cargo of sand towards Pulmoddai. Other victims: a 500 seater ferry flying the Indonesian flag (the MV Misan), a merchant ship flying the Korean flag (the MV Morang Bong), etc.

  • 253 Iqbal Athas, “Zimbabwe Breaks Silence”, The Sunday Times, 28th September 1997
  • 254 Iqbal Athas, “Zimbabwe Breaks Silence”, The Sunday Times, 28th September 1997

87In late August 1997, the Stillus Limmasul, a ship sporting the Greek flag and carrying 32400.81 mm mortar shells purchased in Zimbabwe, was heading for Sri Lanka when it disappeared in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Despite its denials, it clearly appears that the LTTE was responsible. The operation, led partially from South Africa, would have been commanded by Kumaran Padmanathan. This Tamilian, better known by his initials “KP” is none other than the logistics officer of the rebellion253. He is directly answerable to Velupillai Prabhakaran, the chief of the LTTE, for everything relating to supplies ofarms, ammunition, explosives and uniforms. “KP”, today wanted by Interpol, would probably be controlling the maritime operations of the LTTE. Three dummy companies (Delta Marine Ltd., Plymouth Marine Ltd. and Marine Shipping and Trading Ltd.) were spoken about, that would help cover the activities of five or six ships which included the Sweeny (Malta), the Nifly (Panama), the Showa Maru, a Liberian tanker. These boats would serve in the trafficking of arms via the international maritime routes of the East coast of Sri Lanka254.

88Without the knowledge of the Sri Lankan buyers, the cargo of arms from Zimbabwe would have been loaded onto a ship belonging to the Tamil Tigers. This ship which was disguised and not listed in the Lloyds Register of Ships would then have taken the place of the expected cargo ship. This is a South Asian variant of the “phantom ship” technique. Certainly, not a single ship is captured. But the loaded boat is not the one it is believed to be.

  • 255 “Gam Says It Controls Ship Lane”, The Nation, 4th September 2002.

89To the north of Sumatra, at the entrance of the Malacca Straits, the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) has been fighting since 1976 for the independence of the Indonesian province of Aceh. During the year 2001, several ships were attacked at sea and their crew taken hostage. In August, for instance, six sailors of the Ocean Silver were freed against the payment of a ransom of 300 million rupiahs (40000 euros). The GAM could try to force ships crossing the Malacca Straits to seek the authorisation to do so255. More likely, the rebels would thus like their cause to be spoken about on the international scene. The GAM failed, judging that its actions do not improve its image. However whether the separatist movement is united remains questionable.

90Not all its members would be completely under the control of its Chief, Hasan di Taro, refugee in Stockholm.

3.4.4. Piracy and terrorist psychosis

  • 256 Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Journalist Roundtable – United States Pacific Transcript, Jakarta, 27th N (...)

91After the attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center at New York, the United States was worried that suicide attacks would target their interests at sea. Referring to the feats of the Tamil Sea Tigers, the Admiral Dennis Blair, commanding officer of the American fleet for the Asia-Pacific, assured that “he was taking the threat very seriously256

  • 257 Celia W. Dugger, “US Raises Pace of Military Ties with New Delhi”, International Herald Tribune, 6(...)
  • 258 Lee Shi-Ian, “Terrorists at Large Lying Low”, The New Straits Times, 31st February 2002.

92Thus, the Unites States proposed to Malaysia the creation of a combined antiterrorist centre. Combined patrols of the American and Indian Navy were also planned257. Consequently, on 1st August 2002, Washington signed an agreement with the various capitals of the region to fight terrorism and training was given to the Navy and maritime police of Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia258.

  • 259 CFP, “Osama Group Behind Piracy in Strait”, The Straits Times, 23rd July 2002 and “Terrorists as P (...)
  • 260 Beth Jinks, “No Al-Quada-Linked Piracy Attacks in Malacca Straits”, The BusinessTimes, 23rd July 2 (...)

93In this tense situation, the favourable welcome extended to the Chief of the Islamist radical group Lascar Jihad in Batam and Bintan made Washington anxious especially as these Indonesian islands are at the mouth of the Malacca Straits. In December 2001, thirteen militants of the Jemah Isamaiah, another Muslim activist movement, were arrested in Singapore. It is likely that they were on the point of attacking ships and a shuttle used by American sailors with four tons of ammonium that they would have stocked in Malaysia. In July 2002, a former counsellor of Chuan Leepkai, former Prime Minister of Thailand from 1997 to 2001, maintained that the Al-Quaeda was responsible for a large number of the 649 boarding incidents in the Malacca Straits. This organisation, he claimed, wanted to equip itself with nuclear waste in order to fabricate “crude bombs”259. These accusations were never proved; they were refuted by the IMB, which hastened to point out that ships carrying hazardous material are provided with a military escort260.

Notes

187 Eric Ellen, “Maritime Crime”, in CBI Bulletin, vol. 26, No. 8, August 1998, p. 15

188 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 135

189 Kwek Siew Jin, Sea Robberies in the Singapore Straits – The RSN Experience, International Seapower Symposium, Newport, United States, November 1995, 13 p.

190 IMO, 28th February/10th March 1993, p. 14-15

191 Source: www.maritimesecurity.com, June 1999

192 Edward Furdson, Mai 1995, p. 166

193 Muguntan Vanar, “Plunderers from the High Waters”, The Star, 22nd May 2000, p. 10

194 IMO, January 2000, p. 4

195 Eric Ellen “La Piraterie maritime en 1994”, in Revue internationale de police criminelle, March-April 1994, p. 4

196 Weekly reports available on the site www.icc-ccs.org

197 Eddie Toh “S’pore-Registered Ship Raided in Colombo Port”, The Shipping Times, 5th January 2000.

198 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee “Any Port in a Storm”, in Eric Ellen (ed.), Ports at Risk, International Chamber of Commerce-International Maritime Bureau, Paris, 1993, p. 289.

199 “Fishermen in Semporna not affected by Abduction Incident in Sipadan”, Utusan Express, 7th May 2000

200 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

201 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

202 Vincent Goudis, “Les Risques dans le Sud-Est asiatique”, Voile magazine, November 1998

203 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, “Any Port in a Storm”, in Eric Ellen (ed.) 1993, p. 294.

204 “Pirates Attack Malaysian Ship”, The Shipping Times, 28th August 2000

205 Edward Furdson, May 1995, p. 166

206 Samuel P. Menefee, “Violence at Sea”, Jane’s Defense, 1997, p. 100.

207 Samuel P. Menefee, 1997, p. 100.

208 Gilbert Rochu, “Les Pirates high-tech préfèrent les mers chaudes”, Marianne, 29th November 1999

209 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 128

210 Harold Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, London, Cornell University Press, 1978; also read Arnaud Dubus and Nicolas Revise, 2002, p. 151-159

211 John Vagg, 1998

212 Peter Chalk, 1997, p. 35

213 S. Marshall, “Dire Need to Address Root Causes of the Mindano Conflict”, The New Straits Times, 27th May 2000

214 Edward Furdson, May 1995, p. 166

215 Eric Ellen, March-April 1994, p. 5

216 Receipt for goods despatched by sea or river routes

217 Jean Claude Pomonti, Le Monde, 26th October 1995

218 AP, “BC-Singapore-Pirates 1st Ld-Writethru”, FAP, 5th October 2000

219 “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, The Economist, 18th December 1999

220 Dorinda Elliott, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

221 “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, The Economist, 18th December 1999

222 “La Chute du roi de la contrebande”, Courrier international, no 84, 10th February 2000, p. 40-41.

223 Robert Redmond, “Phantom Ships in the Far East”, in Intersec, vol. 6, no 5, May 1996, p. 169

224 Dorinda Elliot, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999

225 Hélène Vissière, “Mer de Chine: Sur la route des pirates”, Le Point, no 1419, 26th November 1999

226 Dorinda Elliott, “Where Pirates Still Sail”, Newsweek, 5th July 1999.

227 On this subject, see especially Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy and Joël Meissonnier Yaa Baa – Production, trafic et consommation de méthamphétamine en Asie du Sud-Est continentale, IRASEC-L’Harmattan, Bangkok – Paris, 2002, p. 87-88

228 IMO, Report of the IMO, Working Group on the Malacca Strait Area, IMO, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, 28th February-10th March 1993, p. 15

229 “Locals Now Get to Sleep Soundly”, The Star, 9th May 2000

230 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 135

231 “Semporna: Land of Many islands”, Utusan Express, 27th April 2000.

232 Muguntan Vanar, “A Hostage’s Story”, The Star, 22nd May 2000

233 “Gunmen Abduct 20”, The New Straits Times, 25th April 2000

234 Florence Compain, “Jolo sous la glaive d’Abu Sayyaf”, Le Figaro, 6-7th May 2000, p. 3

235 Bunn Nagara, “Rescuers Groping in the Dark”, The Star, 30th April 2000.

236 Philippe Pons, “Les Rebelles philippins exigent une médiation étrangère”, Le Monde, 30th April 2000, p. 4

237 Ghislaine Loyré, 1991

238 Eric Frécon, “A Jolo de vrais pirates”, Libération, 10th August 2000, p. 5

239 H’mida Layachi, “Banditisme et islamisme armé vont aujourd’hui de paire en Algérie” (interview, Le Monde, 16th June 2000, p. 3

240 Gille Kepel, Jihad, expansion et déclin de l’islamisme, Gallimard, Paris, 2000

241 “Hijackings by Pirates, not Filipino Soldiers”, The Star, 29th June 2001

242 “Pirates Hijack Two Ships, Hold Captain for Ransom”, The Business Times, 26th June 2001

243 Foong Thim Leng, “Fishermen Facing Piracy Threat”, The Star, 5th July 2001

244 Vu Kim Chung, “Exercise to Combat Piracy”, in www.geocities.com, 16th November 1999.

245 Jean-Paul Pancracio, Droit international des espaces, Armand Colin, Paris, 2001, p. 681

246 “Pirates Nabbed with Force”, The Shipping Times, 19th November 1999

247 “Asian Pirates Sell Arms to LTTE”, Sunday Times, 21st November 1999

248 R. Anand, “Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker off Tioman”, The Sun, 17th June 1999, p. A 10

249 Rohan Gunaratna, “Sea Tiger Success Threatens the Spread of Copycat Tactics”, Jane’s Intelligence Review, vol. 13, no 3, March 2001, p. 12-16

250 “Trends in Maritime Terrorism – The Sri Lanka Case, in Lanka Outlook, Autumn 1998.

251 “LTTE-Le Poids exceptionel des opérations navales”, p. 744-745, in Jean-Marc Balencie, Arnaud de la Grancge (dir.), 1999

252 Rohan Gunaratna, “Sea Tiger Success Threatens the Spread Copycat Tactics”, Jane’s Intelligence Review, vol. 13, no 3, March 2001, p. 14 and Roger Davies, “Sea Tigers, Stealth Technology and the North Korean Connection”, Jane’s Intelligence Review, vol. 13, no 3, March 2001, p. 2-3

253 Iqbal Athas, “Zimbabwe Breaks Silence”, The Sunday Times, 28th September 1997

254 Iqbal Athas, “Zimbabwe Breaks Silence”, The Sunday Times, 28th September 1997

255 “Gam Says It Controls Ship Lane”, The Nation, 4th September 2002.

256 Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Journalist Roundtable – United States Pacific Transcript, Jakarta, 27th November 2001.

257 Celia W. Dugger, “US Raises Pace of Military Ties with New Delhi”, International Herald Tribune, 6th December 2001.

258 Lee Shi-Ian, “Terrorists at Large Lying Low”, The New Straits Times, 31st February 2002.

259 CFP, “Osama Group Behind Piracy in Strait”, The Straits Times, 23rd July 2002 and “Terrorists as Pirates”, The Straits Times, 24th July 2002

260 Beth Jinks, “No Al-Quada-Linked Piracy Attacks in Malacca Straits”, The BusinessTimes, 23rd July 2002.

List of illustrations

Title Type of attacks reported between 2000 and 2001
Caption Source : International Maritimes Bureau (January 2002 data)
URL http://books.openedition.org/irasec/docannexe/image/478/img-1.jpg
File image/, 143k
Title The major pirate ports
URL http://books.openedition.org/irasec/docannexe/image/478/img-2.jpg
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