Thursday, February 12
Gary Jones, Morror.co.uk, February 12, 2004
OSAMA bin Laden has a "terrorist navy" of 15 ships. And Scotland Yard has warned one could sail up the Thames to attack Parliament.
The vessels - capable of carrying lethal chemicals or a dirty bomb - could also ram cruise liners, oil rigs or enter ports on missions of destruction.
A private memo sent to police chiefs by the Met's marine unit is headlined: Next Terror Attack Waterborne?
Ship insurer Lloyd's of London is said to be helping MI6 and the CIA trace vessels bought by al-Qaeda from a Greek shipping magnate with links to bin Laden.
The memo states shipping agents have been asked to help in the search.
The report by the Met - which says it obtained its intelligence from maritime agencies - states: "Al-Qaeda has reportedly taken possession of 15 ships, forming what could be described as the first terrorist navy. The ships fly the flags of Yemen and Somalia where they are registered - and are capable of carrying lethal cargoes of chemicals or a dirty bomb."
Vessels flying the flags of Senegal, Liberia and the Caribbean island of St Vincent are also under suspicion.
The ships are believed to be in the Indian or Pacific oceans. But with 120,000 vessels worldwide, the chance of finding them is slim.
US officials have captured al-Qaeda's chief of naval operations, Abdulrahim Mohammed Abda Al-Nasheri, who is known as the Prince of the Sea. They believe he masterminded the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden which killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 others.
Al-Nasheri plotted an attack on British and US warships in the Gibraltar Straits, but the Moroccan security services prevented the suicide missions by arresting Saudi Arabian al-Qaeda members.