Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money

Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World

Edited by
October 2008 9781850659273 288pp
February 2009 9781849040792 288pp
Temporarily out of stock


The sea is a restless realm. In part that restlessness is timeless: the action of wind and waves. In part it is ancient: the direct threat of pirates. In part it is very modern: the threat of terrorism that has been felt acutely since the events of 11 September 2001. The reaction to these events has had a profound and continuing impact in the maritime domain. It has been alleged that pirates and maritime terrorists present a largely common threat to international maritime security. This book drives to the heart of this proposal by reviewing in detail each phenomenon before asking how and under what circumstances pirates and maritime terrorists might combine forces. Murphy concludes that while piracy may be a marginal problem in itself, the connections between organised piracy, wider criminal networks and corruption on land mean that it may undermine states and destabilise the regions in which it occurs. Furthermore, maritime criminality may disguise insurgent and terrorist activity and allow such actors greater freedom of manoeuvre. He contends also that many of the factors that encourage piracy and maritime terrorism overlap and moreover that these may also encourage and sustain the more generalised issue of maritime disorder that embraces a wide range of illegal activity. In this context Murphy suggests that maritime terrorism, although only a low-level threat currently, has the potential to spread and become more effective in the event of political change on land. Before this can happen, however, maritime terrorists and insurgents will have to overcome significant operational and technical problems and, above all, find a means of triggering a level of fear stemming from atrocities committed at sea similar to that resulting from attacks perpetrated on land if they are to achieve their political objectives.


‘Specialists and general readers alike will find Murphy’s broad, systematic treatment of the subject an excellent starting point’. — J. Peter Pham, RUSI

‘This book sets the standard for future serious works on piracy and maritime terrorism’. — Claude Berube, Naval War College Review

‘There have been a number of books on modern piracy, yet no work compares to Martin N. Murphy’s comprehensive and scholarly research. His will stand as the definitive reference on the subject for years to come’. — John S. Burnett, author of Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas

‘Murphy’s book is a timely audit of the current state of irregular play and, in serving as a standard text for enforcement agencies and military commanders, should form the basis of any sensible doctrine.’ — Rear Admiral Chris Parry, CBE, Royal Navy (Retired), Proceedings


Dr Martin N. Murphy is one of the world's leading experts on piracy and irregular warfare at sea. He lives and works in Washington, DC where he advises the US Navy. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies at King's College, University of London.

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