London global hub for private – and pirate – intelligence
London is well-known for its private intelligence and political risk consultancies, but this role might now have expanded a bit beyond what is traditionally associated with the private intelligence industry. Spanish radio station Cadena SER reports (in Spanish) here that London also serves as an intelligence hub for Somali pirates.
According to a military intelligence report, operatives in London have been in continuous contact with pirates in the Gulf of Aden and helped them select which vessels to target and informed them of their likely routes. The report cites the attempted attack on Spanish fishing vessel ‘Felipe Ruano’ on 13 March 2009 as an example of this.
It has already been noted that online ship tracker sites for maritime enthusiasts could potentially assist non-state actors with illicit aims in finding and selecting targets, but the reported London link also raises the question of the degree of feedback from global intelligence and insurance hubs. It certainly does not help that the quoted military intelligence report says that information on the nationality; route and cargo of vessels that have been remitted to international organisations have ended up in the hands of pirates.
The Guardian has an English language version of the report here.