The Washington Post reports, in this extremely interesting article, on American efforts to prevent terrorism in the murky world of maritime shipping. Al Qaeda is currently believed to own 15 or more freighters that sail internationally on unknown missions. A number of al Qaeda maritime plots have been uncovered, and officials have worked to plug gaping holes in our port security. But the difficulty of identifying terrorists in an industry described by a senior government official as a “shadowy underworld,” where many sailors are criminals, many more sail under fake identifies with forged papers, ships are frequently renamed and repainted while at sea, ownership is often concealed by layers of fictitious corporations, and many countries “flag” ships about which they know little or nothing, is obvious. One potentially huge development is that last month, we captured Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, described as “a mastermind of al Qaeda’s nautical strategy.” He is now said to be cooperating with U.S. interrogators.
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