Columbia International Affairs Online: Books

CIAO DATE: 11/2008

Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy & Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World

Martin N. Murphy

January 2008

Columbia University Press


Piracy is an organised crime. Even at its simplest it requires groups or gangs to carry it out. More profitable piracy requires larger and more sophisticated organisation. The most corrosive effect of organised crime is corruption, which as Thachuk and Tangredi argue, "is the main vehicle, and likely the most socially damaging activity, by which criminal gangs achieve their aims."10 Phil Williams reaches the same conclusion: "Organised crime," he writes, "makes systematic use of corruption" and is an effect that has not been emphasised sufficiently.

It is true that financial gain has undoubtedly been the main motivator for all types of criminal, including pirates, but neither has it been far from the minds of maritime insurgents and terrorists. To do what they do requires money. Short of funds since the main state sponsors of terrorism withdrew their support, insurgents and terrorists have, in many cases, adopted not only the methods but also the mores of organised crime. Crime corrupts, terrorism subverts and when they merge they do both.

Consequently, this book sets out to answer three questions:

1. What form does piracy take in the contemporary world?

2. What is maritime terrorism?

3. Are piracy and maritime terrorism similar or linked?

The aim is to test the proposition that piracy and maritime terrorism, separately or together, present a threat to international security.


Table of Contents