A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Tanker Attack's Belated Confirmation

Some 10 days after the original incident, and somewhat buried due to the weekend, we learned that the attack on the Japanese tanker M Star was indeed a terrorist attack, seemingly giving credence to a claim by the shadowy ‘Abdullah al-‘Azzam Brigades that they attacked the ship.

There would probably be more open alarm being expressed if a) the damage had been greater; b) there hadn't been so much initial confusion, as to whether it was a seismic event or an attack; and c) the delay in announcing a cause.

The fact that only one person was injured on board the tanker, and that the damage was so limited, means that there has been no knee-jerk panic, but a persistent fear has been that terrorist groups could target tanker traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, which could send insurance premiums soaring (as occurred in the "tanker war" phase of the Iran-Iraq war. A repetition of the incident or a more successful attack could still be cause for concern.

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