Examining the Prospective Terror Threats Toward Global Seaports: A Socio-Historical Assessment of Prior Engagements and Application of Social Learning Theory:
Series Part II: Maritime Safety & Security
The 20th century was introduced to new terrorism targets and the spotlight shifted on military and commercial maritime objectives. There had been a heighted awareness regarding incidents of murder (Fouche, 2009) piracy (Halberstam, 1988; Sittnick, 2005), human trafficking (Gallagher, 2002), drug smuggling (Roach, 2004) and various terrorism activities in navigable water. For the purpose of this examination, maritime vessels include luxury and sport sail and power boats, commercial fishing vessels, tankers, barges, bulk and merchant carriers, cargo ships and luxury cruise liners.
In 2000, the USS Cole, a Navy destroyer, was at port in Aden, Yemen, during a refueling when it was attacked by a small boat loaded with explosives. The attack resulted in the deaths of 17 United States naval personnel as well as 40 others being wounded. The vessel suffered extensive damage to the hull but did not sink. The destroyer was towed the vessel back to the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, VA. The U.S. Navy responded by increasing Random Anti-Terrorism Measures both home and abroad. The purpose of these measures is to recognize the importance of defending against volatile weaponry that is employed by enemy combatants.
One of the most feared areas of the world is along the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia. This region experiences the greatest amount of terrorist attacks and acts of piracy world-wide (Sittnick, 2005). Vulnerability is realized because this locale is a demanding shipping lane situated Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia (Sittnick, 2005). With the noted increase in global piracy, much of the focus has been in this area where large vessels are commandeered by organized outlaws who are interested in obtaining cargo to be sold on the black-market or holding ships and their crew for ransom. Other Southeast Asian Sea lanes include the Makassar and Lombok Straits, the Sunda Strait near Jakarta, and the Triborder sea area located between Manila and Brunei. Storey (2008) identified over 280 incidents of piracy and robbery in this area between 2005 and 2007. Because the value of the vessels is in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars and humanity is priceless, corporations and the industry as a whole, is subjected to paying significant payments in exchange for hostages and supply vessels.
In September 2005, a National Strategy for Maritime Security was approved by George W. Bush, with the purpose of averting terrorism or hostile acts against the nation’s seaports, or other international maritime domains that are affiliated with the United States (Crook, 2006). According to Frittelli (2005) and his CRS report to Congress, threat scenarios on U.S. ports include:
- The use of commercial cargo containers to smuggle terrorists or dangerous materials into the county, including biological and nuclear weapons;
- Commandeering large ships and utilizing them as collision weapons on bridges or other vessels;
- Blocking channels by sinking large ships with commercial cargo;
- Attacking cargo ships containing LNG, petroleum, or other volatile fuels;
- Seizing a ferry or cruise ship and endangering passengers;
- Assault Navy or other military vessels and their personnel; or
- Attack land territories that are vital to the seaport.
Since this report, there have been some significant incidents that occurred domestically and globally, the most strikingly was the 2010 attack on the M Star in the Strait of Hormuz (Frodl, 2010). The violence against the Japanese oil tanker owned by Mitsui was alleged to have been executed by the Islamist terror group Abdullah Azzam Brigade (Bradford, 2011). The failed attempt was determined to have been caused by an extremist with a submerged improvised explosive device (Winter, 2011). Although the ship did not sink, the incident provided evidence that terror attacks against the maritime industry was ongoing, and that no area was immune from these atrocities.
Domestically, in their 2007 report to Congress, Parfomak and Frittelli (2007) identified the characteristics of potential maritime terror attacks and recommend focusing on the perpetrators, objectives, locations, targets, and tactics. They also suggest that although an attack is less likely against a seaport location, but a heavily populated harbor could potentially produce a large number of human casualties. However, if the object was to create a significant economic loss, the target area and the methodology used in an occurrence would be dramatically different.
Motives and Theoretical Effects
Kuzma (2000) believes that although Americans see terrorism as a serious threat to the United States, on a personal level, it is not perceived in the same sense. Moreover, Americans are not particularly concerned about terrorism at work, in public, or in their daily family environment. This is widely due to the perceived randomization. Yet, as Phillips (2010) proposes, [the] rational terrorist organization will not pursue a policy of randomizing its attacks. Primarily, due to the lack of the benefits gained from such an attack. Crenshaw (1981) suggests that background conditions must exist in order for terror activity to transpire. Further, it is not simply the environment, but an amalgamation of incentive and ascendency from an authoritative persona or assembly. She further implies there is a necessity of a grievance on behalf of a subgroup, political dissatisfaction, and a supposed precipitating event or an unexpected use of force on the part of a government (p. 384).
The application of theory can be intricate and multifaceted. Theoreticians formulate corollaries and conclusions based on experimental evidence or observed activities of individuals and groups. This is analyzed and studied by peers and lay-persons through a specific lens or framework. Therefore, explaining the precise causality of fear or hate behavior can be challenging and perplexing. Contemporary theoretical models explaining associated terrorist behaviors may be attributed to economic conditions (Blomberg, Hess, & Weerapana, 2004), social movement theory (Gunning, 2009), psychological factors of risk versus rewards (Ward, 2009), rational choice (Berrebi, 2009), general strain theory (Agnew, 2010), or other concepts that present empirical or pragmatic evidence regarding collective comportment that inculcates distress and causes damage and injury.
In their study of modern piracy, Shane and Lieberman (2009) postulate several theories in trying to explain the direct causality of this phenomenon. They cite social disorganization issues such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing, and political unrest as leading to strain and status frustration. These manifestations are leveled by employing criminal activity in the form of piracy. This is ostensible in locales such as Indonesia, Somalia, and Yemen, where continued attacks on sea vessels has become a means of economic revenue. Although these areas are hotbeds for terror action, they are not isolated in this activity. They also provide learning concepts such as crime pattern theory and rational choice as credible explanations. Though rational choice is primarily applied to explain how crime is committed and the decision making process (Cornish, 1993), both theoretical models include principles relative to opportunities that are provided to offenders who have mastered an ability to threaten and intimidate potential crime prospects.
In his early research, Bandura (1965) indicated that similar to conventional learning, violence is learned through the interaction with others and by modeling behavior. The modeled behavior can be witnessed at home, through the mass media, or in other social structures where direct interaction takes place. This is not to propose that those who engage in traditional conventional valued behaviors do not engage in deviant or criminal behavior. However, as he suggests, a postulated causality should be able to reveal prognostic authority and accurately illustrate and portray underlying and contributory factors that exacerbate the behavior. Modeling allows individuals to witness behavior that they identify as being positive and beneficial and therefore, repeat that behavior. Moreover, the research suggests that modeled aggressive behavior is amplified and external weaponry is introduced into the engagement. But, “people do not passively absorb ready-made standards from whatever social influences happen to impinge upon them. They construct for themselves, their own standards through reflective process of multiple sources of direct and vicarious influences” (Bandura, 1991, p. 254). The mass media provides a venue in which terror activities are publicized and at times glorified in the vision of other terrorists, potentially leading to training or promoting hate and violence (Ross, 1996).
With all the documented terror activity outlined over the past five decades, there appears to be an escalation of violence and increasingly ingenious methodologies of introducing terror threats and destruction in virtually all parts of the world. This is manifest from the original hijacking of planes during the 1960s to the use of hijacked planes as weapons on September 11, 2001. Similarly, the attacks on maritime vessels will inevitably increase and the extension of their use as weapons will likely escalate as well. As outlined above, although they are perceived as soft targets, the outcomes of their vulnerabilities can be dramatic.
While there is validity in these postulates, terror activity by individuals (lone wolves), or groups acting in unison, social learning is a plausible construct that formulates a foundation for this criminal typology. Others who have followed and explained various behaviors through social learning imply that it employs overall principles of social behavior to suggest a social psychological reason for criminal and deviant behavior (Akers, 2011). Still further, Moghadam (2008) concludes that those who engage in suicide bombings and similar actions, do so when they are likely to glean social support for their actions. He suggests this has been found in places such as Israel and Lebanon where this form of martyrdom is celebrated. This ideology has become a global representative of many hate groups that target innocent unsuspecting victims.
In their interviews of thirty-five Middle-Eastern terrorists, Post, Sprinzak, and Denny (2003) conclude that the major influence for activism was the social environment they were exposed to during their youth. Furthermore, those from strict religious Islamic backgrounds were more likely to join Islamist groups. Armed attacks are essential to the operation of the organization. Conversely, those who did not have a spiritual background might join either a religious or secular group (p. 173).
According to Stern (2003) and Borum and Gelles (2005), the structural evolution of al-Qaeda began as a means of support for guerilla fighters to a terror network, to an ideological movement. Each faction became an instructive foundation for each subsequent outgrowth from the original assemblage. Therefore, the contemporary methods of employing fear and carnage by these terror groups were initiated by earlier factions and accepted by their supporters. Likewise, as LaFree and Bersani (2014) purport, terrorist activity is dependent upon time and space and thus, ethnic movements focus on those with analogous principles and languages, to help foster new members of an ideological belief system who share these characteristics (p. 458). Effective strategies for awareness, propaganda, recruitment, and membership into terror groups have evolved along with the advent of social media and the technological advances associated with psychological warfare.
The use of web-based publications have become popular across the spectrum of terror organizations. Inspire, an online magazine published by al-Qaeda promoted the voice of Osama bin Laden, and was targeted to English audiences, to promote in particular, lone wolf attacks in Western countries (Skillicorn & Reid, 2013). It has also been found to promote the ideology and mission of radical Islam (Sivek, 2013). Lemieux, et al. (2014) suggest the magazine is responsible for the support of violence and regularly featured developing skills in bomb making and weapons training. Access to this information simplifies the process for those who contemplate engaging in these methods of destruction and further expands the vulnerabilities of designated targets.
The jihadist group ISIS, promotes its message through Dabiq, an online magazine that is based on the religious justification of its militant actions. It further provides updates about the frontline and commitments to their religious campaign on a global scale (Gambhir, 2014). ISIS has shown success in their recruitment strategies through their use of social media and virtual environment by enlisting followers from locales outside their representative locations of Syria and Iraq. This has allowed the terror organization to expand its presence in Libya and Nigeria, resulting in the formulation of smaller militant groups such as Boko Haram and Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit- al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem). Further, it has solicited members from France, Australia, and the United States.
In addition to using methods such as Dabiq, terrorist organizations are also using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Kik Messenger, and various other online websites. Further, they are using video hosting websites such as YouTube and Google Video to publish propaganda, illegal activities, terrorist incidents, kidnappings, torture, etc. Although each of these websites and social media platforms employees thousands of employees to counter these types of illicit actions, they simply cannot keep up with the amount of content being posted. Terrorist organizations are uploading thousands of photos, videos, blogs, web page content, and other context every minute and every hour of the day. Although it is nearly impossible to address all of the content, social media outlets have internal proprietary tools and applications that automatically check for photos, key phrases, sentence structure, etc. to automatically take down certain illicit content.
URL to Part I of mini-series publication: Examining the Prospective Terror Threats Toward Global Seaports: A Socio-Historical Assessment of Prior Engagements and Application of Social Learning Theory-Series Part I: Historical Terrorist Events
URL to Part III of mini-series publication: Examining the Prospective Terror Threats Toward Global Seaports: A Socio-Historical Assessment of Prior Engagements and Application of Social Learning Theory-Series Part III: Maritime Global Legislation, Conclusion, & Recommendations
18 U.S.C. § 2331 defines “international terrorism” and “domestic terrorism” for purposes of Chapter 113B of the U.S. Code, entitled “Terrorism.” Retrieved from: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/terrorism
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Professor Darren Stocker
Darren K. Stocker is a tenured professor of criminal justice at Cape Cod Community College and is the Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Department. He is a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Science and the American Society of Criminology, and is a Charter Member of the BioPsySoc Division, established in 2017. He has spoken extensively throughout the U.S. and The Netherlands. Professor Stocker has authored or coauthored more than 50 peer journals, trade journals, and book chapters. He does research on policing, vicarious trauma, and in other areas of criminal justice. He is currently serving as a Grant funded Research Fellow studying drug courts. He is a recognized consultant and expert witness on policing and corrections.
Professor Stocker is an honors graduate of West Chester University. He earned graduate degrees from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and from the University of Massachusetts – Boston, where his studies included Adult Education theory and Instructional Design. Darren has designed multiple courses at each academic level on multiple learning management systems. He is completing his doctoral dissertation at Northeastern University in Boston.
Darren travels extensively and enjoys exploring obscure areas and uncommon international destinations, learning language and cultures.
Dr. Thomas Rzemyk
Dr. Thomas J. Rzemyk serves as a university professor, researcher, and subject matter expert (SME) in criminal justice, homeland security, counterterrorism, and cyber security. Thomas is a renowned international speaker, educational researcher, college instructor, and academic writer. Dr. Rzemyk has presented research at several prestigious academic and industry level conferences across the globe over the past several years. (i.e. Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences-ACJS, The American Society of Criminology-ASC, Eastern Sociological Society-ESS, Northeastern Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences-NEACJS, Midwestern Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences-MWACJS, and many more). He has written several articles, scholarly papers, book chapters, and other published works in the areas of: cyber security, public policy, school safety and security, education, criminal justice, homeland security, counter terrorism, post war reconstruction, and many other areas. He has worked in both public and private education for almost 15 years and serves on numerous boards and committees.
Dr. Rzemyk also holds industry level certifications such as the CHPP-Certified Homeland Security Professional certification and the CAS-Certified Anti-terrorism Specialist certification. In 2018 he was certified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the New Mexico Tech Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center as a training instructor for the Incident Response to Terrorist bombings-IRTB course which trains first responders and public/private security personnel to respond to IED’s, bombs, and other terrorist devices through resiliency and reactionary-based planning tactics and strategies.
Dr. Rzemyk resides in Blair, Nebraska with his two children and Australian Shepard/Poodle. (Aussiedoodle) He enjoys traveling internationally, fishing, camping, skydiving, scuba diving, writing, and aviation.
Dr. Charles Kocher
Charles J. Kocher is a retired police Deputy Chief from Camden, New Jersey. During his law enforcement career, he was responsible for implementing many innovative programs including a paper-less reporting system, four city-wide community police sub-stations and founded the Camden Police Historic Museum. Other assignments included but not limited to serving as the Academic Director for the Police Academy, Planning/Research and Grant Unit, Budget Unit and Administrative Assistant to the Chief of police.
Upon retirement, Kocher pursued a second career in higher education and served as Coordinator for the Criminal Justice Program at Cumberland County College, New Jersey and as Dean for the Business, Education and Social Sciences Division of the College. Presently, he teaches Criminal Justice related courses at Columbia Southern University and Saint Joseph’s University for graduate level courses.
Formal education includes studies at Villanova University, Rowan University and Saint Joseph’s University. Charles has earned a Master of Arts from Rowan University and a Master of Science from Saint Joseph’s University. His doctorate’s studies were conducted at Saint Joseph’s University for Higher Education Administration and a Ph.D. from California Coast University. In addition, he has several certificates from Rutgers University and Harvard University. He is an active member of the Wilmington University and Holy Family University Advisory Boards.
Areas: Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Homeland Security
Categories: Criminal Justice, General, Terrorism
Tagged: Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Lone Offender, Maritime Legislation, Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, Terrorism