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June 24, 2003

Around The Horn

The Baltic Sky, the ship seized by Greece earlier today, was laden with 680 tons of explosives*, a cargo whose final destination was Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Sudan is listed by the U.S. State Deptartment as a supporter of terrorism, and provides support and refuge to a number of terrorist groups.

Sudan borders Kenya, among other countries.

A day or so before the Baltic Sky was seized, the United States embassy in Kenya was closed due to knowledge of a credible terrorist threat.

Was the embassy closure related to the seizure, or was it just another way to pressure the Kenyans into acting more like a partner in the WoT?

The answer depends on the strength of Al-Qaeda in Africa. If the group is strong enough to run simultaneous operations in the Horn, the odds are the two events are not specifically related to one another, and the seizure, while significant, affects only one cell out of an unknown number.

On the other hand, if Al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened, then its ability to perform multiple operations is also weakened, meaning that the two events may well be related, and that the seizure is another massive blow to an already reeling Al-Qaeda.

The geographic contraction of Al-Qeada's attacks since 9/11, occuring ever closer to the centers of its strength in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, would seem to support the notion that Al-Qaeda is weakening, with a possible corollary effect in that the remaining members of the group may attempt attacks that carry greater operational risk to themselves in an effort to re-seize the initiative.

If the Baltic Sky seizure was anything other than a happy accident, which seems unlikely at best, then the intelligence that led to it could have also triggered the embassy closure. The utilization of that intelligence would be ongoing, as any source good enough to provide target and weapons information probably also had knowledge of the operatives involved in planning the attack.

Of course there's no way to know for sure, but should Kenya or the U.S. announce a number of detentions in the Horn of Africa over the next week or so, it would be another argument in favor of a weakend, penetrated African branch of Al-Qaeda.

* 680 tons is a large amount, to be sure, but nowhere near even the level of an atomic bomb, despite what the excitable Minister of Shipping stated.

Update: Just noticed that I'd somehow lost the "link via" line of the original post, so here it is again.

Guardian link via The Smallest Minority.

Posted by Bigwig at June 24, 2003 12:37 AM | TrackBack
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Perhaps it's smaller than a tatical nuke, but it would WRECK a port, especially if it was detonated next to, say, an LPG tanker.

Very, very ugly.

Posted by: Kevin Baker at June 24, 2003 10:36 AM

Geez Bigwig, don't you know that the terrorist threat is exaggerated in a massive conspiracy to allow the Bush family profit and the Halliburton Co. to take control of the world's ooooooiiiiilllll?

And Kevin, that's just far fetched. I mean, how would terrorists ever know to park a ship in a dock near an LPG tanker? I mean, except for the fact that every time one rolls in, say to Baltimore, it's on the local news?

Like I said, it's all part of a conspiracy to help get the Bushes re-elected. They were Nazis you know... ooooooiiiiilllll, I tell you; ooooooiiiiilllll!

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at June 24, 2003 11:18 AM

I'm sure they only want it to build tunnels and blast mountains for freeway overpasses.

Posted by: Mrs. du Toit at June 24, 2003 01:31 PM
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