Piracy on the rise, but terrorism link not seen: study

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2008 (AFP) – Incidents of piracy have spiked across the world since 2000 but there is no evidence to support fears of extremist groups linking up with pirates for their operations, a new study finds. It attributed the rise to the expansion of the global sea trade, congested chokepoints, corrupt officials, shifting spending priorities, lax coastal and port security, and the availability of small arms.

“Combined with the large number of ports around the world, this growth has provided pirates with an almost limitless range of tempting, high pay-off targets,” said the study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organization.

The study, which was authored by Peter Chalk, said 2,463 actual or attempted acts of piracy occurred between 2000 and the end of 2006, nearly a quarter of them in waters around the Indonesian archipelago.

The average annual rate of incidents during those years was 68 percent higher than in the previous six-year period, it said.

But it said fears that extremist groups would use pirate gangs and networks to move material or fighters or to carry out attacks have not materialized.

“To date, there has been no credible evidence to support speculation about such a n