ISIS poses no immediate threat to superyachts in the Med, report says

21 April 2015• Written by Laura Nineham

Fears that ISIS could extend its jihad to the high seas and attack superyachts and commercial shipping in the Mediterranean have been downplayed in a recent report.

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The Worldwide Yachting Association MYBA commissioned security experts Dryad Maritime to look into the threat posed by ISIS.

The Islamic extremists’ quest to establish a caliphate from the Middle East to North Africa has become headline news worldwide recently with the escalating crisis of migrants attempting to flee its murderous clutches across the Mediterranean Sea. It has been suggested that a logical step for ISIS in its ideological war would be to attack shipping in the Med, including superyachts. These fears have been exacerbated by ISIS propaganda.

However, Dryad said in its report ‘Central Mediterranean: Isis Maritime Threat Assessment’ that the threat had been overstated and that many media reports were inaccurate.

Dryad said that it “has no positive evidence to suggest that ISIS currently has the capabilities to successfully conduct an offshore attack”. Dryad doubted that ISIS had the equipment or logistical capability to attack shipping at the current time. However, it did not rule out that this situation could change if ISIS established a stronger foothold in Libya, North Africa, where it is currently fighting other jihadist groups.

The report also said that the presence of western military and coastguard vessels in the region mitigated the chances of such an attack being mounted by an organisation that is predominantly concerned with a land war.

FRONTEX, the EU border agency, has seven vessels and five aircraft operating off Libya and these are bolstered by operations of the Italian coastguard and US military. The report goes on to say that if it were thought ISIS was a threat to shipping there would be a “rapid build-up” of western naval forces in the region. As such Dryad deems the risk to shipping in the Med as “low” and “further assesses that the risk of an attack specifically against superyachts to be very low”.

That said Dryad emphasised that superyachts and their crews should take all the usual security precautions, maintain good “maritime domain awareness” and remain 75 NM from Libya and try to avoid the migrant route between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Should the situation change, Dryad said that naval forces would undoubtedly secure safe transit passages through the Med.