Yachts and other shipping in the Mediterranean could come under attack from heavily armed Isis fighters using speedboats to conduct attacks from the Libyan coast, a former Royal Navy admiral warned this weekend.
Rear Admiral Chris Parry said he feared the “super-rich” could be singled out as part of a piracy campaign that would threaten shipping from Gibraltar to Greece.
“Yachting, any leisure activity, is going to be under threat,” he said.
“If I were the likes of the super-rich I would be getting a bit concerned about my physical security.”
Isis pirates would pose a greater danger than the Somalis who have attacked shipping in the Indian Ocean because they are better armed.
“You are going to get them turning up with surface-to-air missiles. Helicopters are going to come down if you are not careful,” Parry said, adding that Isis would have an “endless supply” of fighters and weapons from Syria and Libya.
This is not the first time Parry has highlighted the vulnerability of shipping in the Mediterranean to potential terrorist attacks. A former head of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) think tank, he published a report in 2006 warning north African “barbary pirates” could attack yachts and beaches in the Mediterranean within 10 years.
Parry claims to have been reprimanded at the time by a senior figure in the MoD for emphasising the dangers to European security posed by migration and was told not to repeat his claims.
His concerns were echoed last week by Admiral Jim Stavridis, a former Nato supreme allied commander Europe, who said Italy was particularly exposed to “extremely high” risk.
“The Isis fighters can either slip in with the waves of illegal migrants or they can simply hire a boat and come ashore on one of the islands,” he cautioned.
Stavridis suggested that Italy could convene a meeting under article 4 of the north Atlantic treaty, which allows any Nato member to consult its allies whenever it believes that “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened”.
“The Italians have got to be there but it needs to be more than just Italy, it really has got to be Nato,” Stavridis said.