Terror on the High Seas

From Piracy to Strategic Challenge

by Yonah Alexander and Tyler B. Richardson, Editors
Forewords by James Arden Barnett, Jr., Robert J. Cox, and Ingar Skaug


The ability to ship safely is at the heart of the U.S. economy and critical to military operations. But experience has proven that U.S. shipping is not as secure as we might wish. The threat of maritime terrorism is real and palpable. Contemporary history and the recent debate on U.S. port security clearly demonstrate that the maritime industry, including the merchant marine, shipbuilding industries, and the United States Navy, are all vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

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September 2009


Pages 688
Volumes 2
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/International and Transnational Security
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A provocative new look at an important security topic examines terrorist threats and attacks on shipping and ports—and provides strategies for safety.

Terror on the High Seas: From Piracy to Strategic Challenge is a provocative look at maritime security and the steps that must be taken if terrorist threats are to be nullified. From the Achille Lauro hijacking to the bombing of the USS Cole to attacks on shipping channels, terrorists have employed a variety of tactics, both successful and unsuccessful. These have included the smuggling of arms and plots to bomb shipyards, as well as attacks on Merchant Marine ships, maritime offices, fuel storage facilities, and Navy personnel, ships, and facilities, on shore and in port.

This book constitutes the first research effort after the unprecedented attacks of September 11, 2001, to provide government, industry, and the academic and policy communities with a major resource on potential threats to the maritime environment. Assuming that past tactics, as well as a variety of other unconventional attacks, will be utilized by both domestic and international groups well into the 21st century, the book sagely outlines the response needed from government and industry to meet the coming challenges.


  • Offers a historical perspective on maritime terrorism
  • Surveys common terrorist tactics
  • Reviews both government perspectives (executive and legislative) and international perspectives (national, regional, and global)
  • Overviews maritime terrorism in the 21st century, offering a tactical and strategic outlook for the future
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

Yonah Alexander is a senior fellow and director of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies based at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the International Law Institute. He has published over 95 books in the field of international terrorism, including The New Iranian Leadership: Ahmadinejad, Nuclear Ambition and the Middle East; Evolution of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy: A Documentary Collection (3 Vols.); and Turkey: Terrorism, Civil Rights, and the European Union.

Tyler Richardson has served as the Director of Research for the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies and as Defense Fellow for the Long-Term Strategy Project, both in Washington, DC. His work on maritime terrorism and port security issues has been published by The Washington Times, United Press International, The Jerusalem Post and The Lexington Institute. Mr. Richardson holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown University and an MBA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He currently works as a senior analyst in North Carolina.



". . . this set is an excellent supplement to research on the topic. It will be a worthwhile addition to collections focused on terrorism, maritime issues, or policy formation. Extensive index. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers."Choice

"Integrating global, regional, and local perspectives, this two-volume set examines terrorist threats and attacks on shipping and ports, and looks at strategies for safety. The bulk of the book consists of official and nongovernmental documents dating from the 1980s onwards, including executive statements, question-and-answer sessions with presidents and other leaders, statements from Congressmen and Senators, testimony before various committees, presidential proclamations, legislation, Congressional research reports, policy papers, and public announcements. Volume I contains case studies on incidents and unilateral and multilateral responses, focusing on US measures, but also including global and regional strategies. A chapter on US organizational structure looks at the roles and responsibilities of various bodies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the US Coast Guard, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Department of Defense, and the FBI. Volume II looks at the role of the US legislature, and presents international perspectives. There is also material from NATO, the UN, and the International Maritime Organization. A final chapter presents private-sector perspectives from industry and trade organizations."Reference & Research Book News


"Professor Yonah Alexander and Tyler Richardson have written and compiled an outstanding and comprehensive review of piracy and terrorism at sea, an essential tool by anyone desiring to understand and fight this timeless, and yet modern day, threat to public safety, international security and commerce.'
"—James Arden Barnett, Jr., J.D.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Senior Research Fellow
Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

"The sophistication of our present-day opponents in the asymmetric fight must be matched by an equal sophistication of understanding and action by our present-day military leaders. Professor Yonah Alexander and Tyler Richardson have succinctly and expertly captured the essence of this challenge.'
"—Robert J. Cox. Rear Admiral USN (Ret.)
General Managing Partner, Maritime Security Strategies, LLC
Former Commander, Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group

"In this book, Professor Yonah Alexander and Tyler Richardson will give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the strategic challenges related to piracy, through well-documented background material and case studies. This book will serve as an important resource to businesses, governments, and schools, to bring us closer to viable solutions and jurisdictions in the fight against piracy.'
"—Ingar Skaug, GCEO, Wilh. Wilhelmensen ASA, Norway

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