Counter-Terrorism: Epic Fail In The Straits Of Hormuz


August 15, 2010: Apparently a suicide bomber attempted to sink a Japanese oil tanker on July 28th. It took over a week to determine the attack had occurred, because the damage to the 300,000 ton (DWT) ship M. Star was negligible. There was an indentation in the hull near the bow. But there was no hull breech or structural damage (aside from the deformed hull plates). One member of the 31 man crew was slightly injured. All the crew saw was "a light on the horizon", when the explosion took place shortly after midnight.

Investigators recovered traces of homemade (fertilizer and fuel oil) explosives. An Islamic terror group, the "Abdullah Azzam Brigades" took credit. This outfit is believed to be a name of convenience for several independent terrorist operations. The "Abdullah Azzam Brigades" took credit for recent rocket attacks against the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eliat. But these failed and the rockets fell in nearby Jordan, killing and injuring people.

The attack on the tanker was amateurish, as the explosives were not prepared properly. The fertilizer based explosives are difficult to make correctly (the fertilizer and fuel oil must be mixed in the right proportions, and mixed properly). When the explosives are mixed badly, there is a much smaller explosion, and a very slow going one as well. This sort of thing works well for naval mines or torpedoes, where slow moving explosion creates a more effective pressure wave that does more structural damage to ships. Keep in mind that explosives are simply very fast burning materials. The slowest burning "explosives" are used for rocket motors. Thus for explosions in the air, you want "high (speed) explosives" to punch through metal. Apparently the suicide boater got as close he could to the huge tanker (whose wake  makes getting close, especially for a small boat, very difficult), then detonated. All the "low (speed) explosives" could do was dent the hull, while turning the suicide bomber into fish food and his boat into kindling.

Such incidents have become more common as Israeli developed anti-terrorism tactics are employed more and more. What the Israelis did in response to the latest Palestinian terror campaign was to concentrate on the technical personnel and management (the terrorist leaders who organized the attacks). This worked against the Palestinians, and the terrorists in Iraq. The tactic is being used worldwide, because it was found that the Islamic terrorist "technicians" tend to travel to where they are needed (and the pay is best). Thus every one of these bomb builders and attack organizers you kill or imprison, shrinks the world supply of these scarce personnel. The recent attack on the Japanese tanker is another example of what that shortage means.





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