UAE: State Actor Likely Behind “Sophisticated” Fujairah Attacks

The attacks on four commercial vessels off Fujairah on May 12 were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, according to the United Arab Emirates.

Illustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Representatives to the United Nations of the UAE , Norway, and Saudi Arabia told the United Nations Security Council that, based on the preliminary findings of the investigation, a state actor is most likely responsible for the coordinated attacks on the four oil tankers.

The assessment of the damage to the four vessels and the chemical analysis of the debris recovered revealed it was highly likely that limpet mines were used in the attacks on the Saudi Arabia-flagged tankers Amjad and Al Marzoqah, Norway’s crude oil tanker Andrea Victory and the UAE-flagged tanker A Michel.

“Based on the evaluation of radar data, and the short time several of the targeted vessels had been at anchor prior to the attacks, it appears most likely that the mines were placed on the vessels by divers deployed from fast boats,” the representatives explained.

While investigations are still ongoing, the conclusions are supported by the facts that the attacks required intelligence capabilities for the deliberate selection of four oil tankers from among almost 200 vessels of all types that lay at anchor off Fujairah at the time of the attacks.

One of the targets was at the opposite end of the anchorage area from the other ships, which indicates that these were premeditated strikes, rather than targets picked at random, the officials said, adding that the attacks likely required the positive identification of these pre-selected targets by the operatives carrying out the attacks.

Additionally, the officials informed that the attacks required trained divers as the explosive charges were placed with a high degree of precision under the waterline, in ways that were designed to incapacitate the ships without sinking them or detonating their cargoes – indicating minute knowledge of the design of the targeted ships.

Furthermore, the attacks required a high degree of coordination among what most likely were several teams of operatives. This included the timed detonation of all four explosive charges, sequenced within less than an hour.

The attacks also required the expert navigation of fast boats, with understanding of the geographic area, that were able to intrude into UAE territorial waters and to exfiltrate the operatives after delivering the explosive charges, the preliminary findings showed.