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Mitigating Extremist Maritime Threats to Radiological Material Transport Vessels

by Justin R Kinney
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
Proceedings of the 20th International Symposium on the Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials
Publication Date
Publisher Location
Illinois, United States of America
Conference Name
PATRAM 22: The International Symposium on the Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials
Conference Location
Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, France
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

The 21st century has experienced a rise in the threat of global radicalism and extremist organizations, and there has been oft-reported interest from these groups in obtaining or exploiting radiological materials. The threat of extremists acquiring radiological materials while in transit or sabotaging a transport vessel carrying materials at sea is one that requires increased attention. Transport is already one of the most vulnerable times for any cargo but including the difficulties in securing a large ship on the open ocean makes oceanic transport of radiological materials a space of elevated vulnerability for sabotage, theft, or other attacks. The risks of violent extremist attacks on trade ships and trading routes are serious, as shipping routes sustain the global economy, but an attack on a radiological transport vessel could be a magnitude worse, impacting national and international security. While radicalists have largely remained on land in the past due to minimal maritime expertise or inability to project power out of their immediate vicinity, the world has witnessed past attacks on ships such as the USS Cole and the MV Limburg and it is likely only a matter of time before groups extend further into the sea and engage in more maritime campaigns against material transport vessels. This paper suggests methods for increasing safety and security on oceanic transport voyages through behavioral science principles and insider threat recognition training, as well as a better understanding of adversarial and extremist psychology. By providing transport personnel with the knowledge and support to identify and respond to unique maritime threats by extremists, these principles and training suggestions should advance and increase security on the high seas.