(AFP) The Al-Qaeda network could stage a seaborne attack within the next 12 months, in a tactical strategy to drive maritime shipping costs and travel times to record highs, a British private defense firm said.
A waterborne attack would be “spectacular — a big bang to get people’s attention'” in an ideal Al-Qaeda plot, Aegis Defence Systems intelligence director Dominic Armstrong said.
Aegis said there was a greater likelihood of such a strategy now because Al-Qaeda had promoted a maritime attack specialist as the head of its operations in Saudi Arabia.
It said Saud bin Hamud al-Otaibi was thought to be behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port city of Aden that killed 17 US sailors.
Armstrong also said the Iraq conflict was training Islamic militants from various countries in warfare, who would return to their home countries trained and battle-hardened.
“Iraq is the equivalent for a new generation — an opportunity for the ambitious Jihadist,” he said.
Aegis Defence System, founded in 2003 by former SAS officer Tim Spicer, won a 293-million-dollar US defense contract to coordinate private security contractors in Iraq as well as to provide its own security units.
One of its subsidiaries, Hudson Trident, is a maritime security consultancy.