The UK’s highest naval officer in NATO is warning other leaders of ISIS’ ambitions to go off shore and build a navy to “wage war against the West.”
Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone spoke from London this week saying there was a ‘horrible opportunity’ that a ‘very high quality weapons system’ would be used to hit ships crossing the sea, having ‘extraordinary implications’ for the Western World.
Johnstone focused a lot on Libya, and the role it is taking on in this new ISIS era. Because of the conflict and revolt that has spread throughout that region, it’s been much more difficult for NATO countries to determine what threats are there, he said.
The terrorist group has reportedly built up a “retreat zone” in Libya over the last year and uses it as strategic hub for recruits who are unable to reach Syria. Another major concern the west has is the spread of very capable Korean, Chinese and Russian hardware into the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah.
There is currently no threat to shipping in the area, but Johnstone says: “We know they want a maritime arm just like al Qaeda.” He adds: NATO must not get ‘hustled out’ of eastern Mediterranean water space. The jihadists’ spread into Libya casts an “uncomfortable shadow,” said Johnstone.
The NATO commander believes an attack on ships such as cruise liners would be an act “which is almost a mistake…or it will be an act of random terrorism that will suddenly have extraordinary implications for the Western world.”
The Daily Mail reports that one of Johnstone’s other concerns is that Russian submarines are coming dangerously close to British waters but it’s no longer the “cat and mouse” games played during the Cold War. He says “nations who in the past had prioritized to have submarines in the Gulf or eastern Mediterranean are now looking to reinvest that capability to protect British, French and American waters.”
The Vice Admiral emphasized that the eastern Mediterranean has started to become a “competed space” with “quite a lot of actors.” He says, “We have just got to make sure we can access that, with all the freedom of navigation in international law we want. Does it worry me, yes, quietly it does worry me a bit.”
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