Southeast Asia struggles to protect vulnerable waterway from terrorist threats from MSNBC, with thanks to Skeet Street.
When 35 pirates carrying machine guns and rocket launchers boarded a tanker laden with methane in the Malacca Strait in March, it sent a shudder through the crew, and a ripple of fear from Tokyo to Washington.
The incident marked a resurgence in attacks along one of the world’s most vulnerable and valuable shipping lanes, where things had been relatively quiet following last year’s tsunami. It also served as a reminder of the risks to world trade, and of the potential for terrorism in the region.
The attack on the tanker turned out to be routine highway robbery in the strait, whose waters are shared by Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
But in the nightmare scenario, terrorists using the methods of modern-day pirates seize a gas tanker and use it as floating bomb, which experts say could explode with the force of a small nuclear weapon. The damage from such an attack could go well beyond the immediate bloodshed and environmental damage, hobbling U.S. trade with Asia and cutting off essential energy supplies shipped through the narrow channel to China, South Korea and Japan…