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Japanese oil tanker blast: terrorism 6, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, The Emirates, The Gulf.
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So it turns out that it wasn’t a freak wave, an old mine or a collision with another ship or submarine but a terrorist attack. The Japanese tanker M-Star which nearly had a hold punched in its side last week on route from Qatar to Japan was the victim of a U.S.S. Cole-esque attack, it has been announced.

Residue from a home-made explosive was detected on the outer hull by Emirati authorities. Numerous implications come to mind.

Firstly, this is quite a departure from typical terrorist tactics and a worrying development for GCC States which have been largely free of any such attacks for years now (particularly so if you exclude KSA).

Secondly, that such an attack can be launched from the Arab side of the Gulf will be seriously perturb security forces (no doubt bolstering their reasoning behind banning Blackberrys).

Thirdly, this is a somewhat paradoxical attack. It highlights the apparent ease with which terrorists can mount such an attack without discovery or even the suggestion that an attack has taken place. Whilst at the same time it shows that conducting a successful attack may well be more difficult than they realised. The hull of the ship, whilst clearly damaged, held up well. This will give other would-be seaborne terrorists pause for thought. [Though, if they are expecting a great ball of flame to erupt, I think they’ll be mistaken: I believe oil is rather difficult to ignite. LNG, on the other hand…]

Fourthly, experts, journalists and […deferential cough…] supposedly knowledgable bloggers ought to have suggested this possibility. Such notions have been floated for years now. The USS Cole, whilst some time ago now, is nevertheless relatively fresh in the mind too. Why many (including myself) failed to connect these suicide boat-shaped dots is a mystery to me. Poor form.

Fifthly, this signals that no country is safe. Japan can – surely? – not be a selected target. They have no baggage, history or issues in the Middle East. Or am I missing something here? Why wouldn’t they have waited for an oil tanker destined for the U.S?

Sixthly, do we trust this report from the Emiratis? Their first explanation, after all, was – laughably – that a freak wave caused the dent. I would have thought that mentioning hard, cross checkable facts would either mean that they are lying in a particularly foolish, brazen manner or they actually found such evidence. Given that I can’t see why crying terrorism would suit their needs, I think I’ll believe then. (If they had said that Iran had done it…)