photo susanne Haerpfer

photo susanne Haerpfer

A not so fairy tale about

Red tape and Black gangs and white collars


On Monday the Somali piracy court case will be debated at Bucerius Law School.

An occasion to look closer at the topic:

„How are you dealing with Port Security in Hamburg?“

Chief of the Dubai Port Police is quoted on the homepage of the Hamburg port training institute (HPTI) – a daughter of HHLA

A tricky sentence as those who know about semantics would agree upon the quote can be translated with the spontaneous how do you solve the problem how to handle potential threats? But it can be translated right the opposite. How can one circumnavigate the costly security measures? Who is the black gang in your city? Which deals can be made? Or less corrupt what business opportunities did you develop out of the official requirements? How can one turn costs for more security from loss into bargain?
Which deals are done? which risks do you take? How high security is valued? How much does less security cost and how much does more security cost? How far is who going in order to make a deal gambling with security? Who is willing to sell out the security of his own city in order to make profit? The homepage writes sarcastically that those invited get inside views into the loop holes of maritime security:  During a tour by boat through the port, Colonel Al-Zaabi became aware of how difficult it must be to maintain a high level of security in such a big and diverse port like Hamburg, which has grown over centuries and is nearly surrounded by the city.”

photo susanne haerpfer
photo susanne haerpfer in barcelona

International cooperation a balancing act between modern urban cosmopolitic flair naivity, industrial espionage and terrorist threat.

How to distuinguish the open international cooperation beyond bounderies from those who signify a potential threat?

The photo on the homepage looks as if a security test was carried out as if  verfassungsschutzchef Rainer Fromm posed as guest from Pakistan or dubai in order to find out who among the Hamburg traders was willing to carry out a sales out of security. Redteam exercise under real life conditions? Or provoking reactions which without the promotion never had happened .On November 3 rd Hamburg Stock exchange had invited. Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG HHLa was among those presenting their work. But denied the existence of a maritime security analysis a ording to the representative Port authority is the only one in charge whereas HHLa was not carrying out any security analysis of any foreign port this was said to be the business of the customers.

photographed by susanne Haerpfer

photographed by susanne Haerpfer in Hamburg

A blank lie or executive summary of the sad fact? Is security sacrificed in order to sign deals? Do the involved parties control the sales?

Do traders and authorities bet on the risk? Go on as if nothing had happened and hope that either no terror attack will happen or make a deal and pay schutzgeld to blackmailing parties. How is maritime reality mirrored in the stock market? Are bets done on the sucessful hijacking of a vessel?

In the making of “U bahn Pelham ” the research  question is presented whether at wall street stocks are high when insiders know about attack on the subway one of the core problems of current law of stocks. Any flaw, any critical issue is officially interpreted as negative and thereby influencing the stock index. This perception per se is undemocratic and returns as a boomerang to the whole society with double kinetic energy. Instead of rewarding those fundamentally correcting mistakes into future advantage

Security lacks at high sea were identified as threat in the aftermath of 911 by US security authorities. The consequences? An escalation – according to International Maritime Organization [IMO] on the one hand and on the other a klick – in – the – box – attitude  Instead of fundamentally changing maritime security one has introdued a pro forma procedure.

UN headuarter by susanne haerpfer

UN headuarter by susanne haerpfer

In  contrast to what the representative claimed HHLa´s daughter company HPTI works on security  uestions according to the homepage:

“Modular Concept for the Development of Competencies in Maritime Security

The first ISPS security training course based on the certified concept has finished successfully

The first ISPS security training course using the new certified modular training concept started in August. Saudi engineers of Saudi Aramco, who work as Marine Consultants for Petro Rabigh, a new petrochemical industry park and chemical port north of Jeddah on the Red Sea Coast, followed an intensive programme in port facility security. Petro Rabigh is a joint venture between the largest Saudi oil company Saudi Aramco”

photo susanne haerpfer
photo susanne haerpfer

A potentially proble atic cooperation what and who are the pro´s and con´s? A topic for research interviews and comments

Is it a modern laid back approach without prejudice or will it increase the threat level?

Classical countries of origin of piracy turned out to be entangled in the web of master minds of new forms of terror.

As not only Pulitzer prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote 2006 in his award winning “The looming tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11”,  Alfred A. Knopf publishing house, New York, terrorists carrying out the lethal attacks met in Malaysia in order to plan and prepare their deeds. Befor this, already in 2005 I held a lecture at the Academy of Command of the German military (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg) asking why – at least officially – they are so focussed on Afghanistan wheras publically available information and my own journalistic experience from travel abroad in Southeast Asia would hint to go for Malaysia in order to unravel more background.

photographed by susanne haerpfer

photographed by susanne haerpfer

Given this historical background one has to face future involvement as well. And one has to ask whether a new tribunal is being prepared to bring the real masterminds of the 911-attacks to justice and at the same time prosecute semi-piracy-semi-terroristic related attacks – without endangering not only the Court of the Law of the Seas in Hamburg but also the port of Hamburg itself.

There is the saying, a perpetrator returns.

Everything started in in the cities of shipping, everything started in the cities of Kualah Lumpur (KL) and Hamburg.

photographed by susanne haerpfer at labuan port

photographed by susanne haerpfer at labuan port

Did it only start at a Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg? Is it classical architecture only that those involved were studying? Or critical infrastructure? What about harbour? What about the port of Hamburg?

The road to 911 is the original title of the book of Lawrence Wright playing with words, using a term from shipping.

Just as planes do also “taxi on ground”, ships stay “on road” when not being at route.

Again, the terror started in the cities of finance and shipping – KL, pronounced quay Al.

Wharf el and ham-burg; the castle of all evil from an Islamistic perspective – the center where to obtain the food of the unpure, the non haram ham. The aim of the terror on 911 has not been achieved so far.

What if pirates and terrorists return home?

To the countries of Sandokan and Störtebeker?

What if they accomplish what they started simultaniously; e.g. in Hamburg and in the core centers of the raiders.

In the city homes of Gordon Gekko, the safe havens and heavens of banking but of the “cities of porks” at the same time?

What if they attacked “Quai L”?

For this purpose using money originating from their foes and friends at the same time.

Units are ideological neutral according to Western standards. So neutral that they will buy the weapon which will kill its producers, as Marxists would cynically consequently comment on. So what if future terrorists will be more “capitalistic” than their teachers?

photographed by susanne haerpfer

photographed by susanne haerpfer

Carrying out the masterpiece of terror, so to say, their “habilitation” by demonstrating what that have learned at US and German universities; at law school and in everyday life: – to argue on one day for their client and the very next day turn against him – under the name of a subsidiary of course. Financed by and mingled with the backbone of economy: the shipping industry.

An attack on the ports of Hamburg and Malaysia financed by their victims.

The road to self destruction.

A perpetuum mobile.

Catch-22, the Islamistic way.

Any action against the financial masterminds would reveal the involvement of so called serious businesmen, with or without knowledge of the grade of involvement.

Any prosecution might collide with economic interests in the shipping business.

Idleness as well.  Is this also one of the reasons for a new tribunal? Are there indications that the existing one is biased? Has it to be ensured that piracy and terror at sea as well as the financial background for such acts will be prosecuted? Even if the economy of Hamburg or Germany should be envolved? Have the investigations about the economical history of 911 revealed that the law of the Seas alone would not tackle the financial web behind neither piracy nor terrorism?

Is it necessary to build up a parallel structure for securing justice even if the Court of Hamburg should be destroyed physically? Or have the judges been too independent from the perspective of envolved parties? Shall an additional international tribunal ensure that German white collar delinquents will be prosecuted even if they should be by coincidence neighbors of the existing established court? Or would the creation of such a new authority undermine the existing one and even help to evasive defence of non state actors? Which interests back the current consideration? Is it for the purpose of justice? Or for the sake of economical interests? In April one could read about US- investigators researching proclaimed violations against US-compliance laws by German subsidies; violating German laws themselves. (see:,1518,druck-687352,00.html). Currently US investigators are involved in the case of  potential criminal activities by HSH bankers,1518,714340,00.html

photo by susanne haerpfer in new york

photo by susanne haerpfer in new york

So apparently already today there are investigations carried out by Third state actors on German soil extending existing law. Will such a creation process of an institution affecting an already existing one as the International Tribunal of the Seas at Hamburg trigger off a debate about practice and malpractice, of competences and restrictions, of collision of national and international law, of the different perspectives of independency and interdependency in general? Affecting everybody. In that respect piracy would just function as an example in order to debate in public instead of internal committees what affects everybody´s lives: it is not only a seemingly far away Somali pirate who can be taken out of his home country and being sent to custody by an international body. It can be the employee of a shipping agency or any other office within Germany or the USA, who could be prosecuted by an international investigator and sent first to trial taking place in a Third, foreign country than his origin and then behind bars. Where to draw the line between not guilty and negligence? On Wednesday this week German television aired the political crime story “Takiye” about the facade of an Islamic cultural foundation and Islamic banking being misused by an unholy alliance of state security of at least two countries and criminals for personal profit and in the long run terroristic purposes (

Some employees knew, some suspected something while others didn´t have the slightest clue. The effect was the same. They lured humans into destruction – financially and physically. German intelligence officials gave away identities of “suspects” to officials from so called partner organizations from so called allies. With letal consequences for the suspects; again: suspects –  not convicted criminals. Sounds familiar? Yes, similarities with real life events has been intended. “Morale” of this story? Well, cultural foundations can have two faces, can serve for the good as well as for the evil. Same is true for international law and international organizations. They can guarantee cooperation on a global scale. For democracy and security of citizens. Or they can endanger what they were intended to protect. So as an employee better ask yourself whether what you are doing really is compliant or could be in reality serving for obstructive purposes. Many plead not guilty before.

With international law and international tribunals one can face a trial charging supporting terrorism sooner than one can imagine. These are the possible consequences of what is called in such an abstract manner “the consideration of a creation of  an international tribunal”.

It has to be said clearly as that, in order to really know about what we might be talking about and vote for or opt against.

Fact finding mission in the original sense of the word. A journalistic task.

Because what might be a “delicate rendition” of people we call terrorists today, might be us tomorrow, under different or the very same conditions, when definitions turn against us.

At court and at High Seas, so goes the proverb, one´s fate is in gods hands or in the hands of those who have the might. Who is ruling the rules? What is an act of piracy? And how can it be distinguished from an arrest of a ship?

Formally piracy is defined under article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), whereas the arrest of a ship is defined by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development But in practice, in real life it is sometimes as difficult to distinguish a terrorist from a freedom fighter as a pirate from an official.

Who is allowed do define and execute this definition? Which constitutes an offence versus self defence? How many violations of environmental law have to occur befor a ship can be boarded opposed to captain or crew? And by whom?

Will a Somali customs officer ever being regarded upon as the legitimate representative of a state carrying out his duty by taking a German ship into custody due to hazarding the coast line by negligent transport of pollutants?

Some countries are automatically looked upon – for right or for wrong – as being synonyms for red tape and other forms of crime.

As a free lance journalist I myself could observe at first hand while being on board of a freighter how a ship´s crew became victim of chicane by the so called Black Gang of Calcutta pressing for goods of value under the disguise of official duty officers.  So I do know what ships´ crews talk about when hating red tape and other criminal acts in certain countries. (see e.g. Mit Fracht und Fusel über´n Pazifik, 19.6.1996,

photographed by susanne haerpfer

photographed by susanne haerpfer

On the one hand. On the other hand as investigative journalist I have been reporting e.g. about the danger emerging from radioactive consumer goods being imported without being controlled at all or just to a certain extent in some harbors such as Rotterdam. (see: Plusminus, Das Erste, ARD, 19.8.2008 + and:

But this lack of control is – formally – in compliance with existing law.

How to change that? Law can be developed, at least theoretically. Has the existing court revealed itself as a paper tiger? Against those who attacked ships as well as against actors trying to gain influence over justice? Will a new tribunal unify those isues which are interwoven but have been heard and decided upon by different courts at seperate locations up till now?

Divide et impera has always been a means to sustain power instead of guaranteeing justice.

Is this to be changed? Will it be possible for prosecutors at a tribunal to be established to really investigate in an independent manner? Will it be possible to really pursue all aspects related to a crime; that is not only those apparent at first sight? Will it be possible for those prosecutors to see the whole, the wider picture? To take into custody not only those with the “smoking gun” in their hands but those as well who gave the orders?

Even if such an investigation would lead right into the office of a “well respected member of our society”? Will such an investigation being enabled and not stopped by the auspices of  “endangering economy” but contrary securing security and stabilizing a literally healthy economy? For the sake of everybody; except for those betting on fast profit only.

As the fish polluted by chemicals and radioactive substances endangers the life of a Somali fisher just very much the same way as it does to the white collar criminal who ordered to dump the waste; only at first glance far away. But in reality the pollutant returns – to the restaurants´ table at home and at the vacation resort (see also my articles being re-published on the homepage of the Union of German Federal Police/Coast guard

photo susanne haerpfer

photo susanne haerpfer

So will such a new tribunal ensure that all these aspects will be looked into? What exactly was it to make somebody attack a cargo ship. Was it a criminal act? And if so for which reasons? Poverty? Profit? Self defence? Against what? Pollutants? Industrial fishing by conglomerates? Violating existing law? Executive forces from countries? Landlords? Who gave the order for which reasons to attack a ship? Will it be possible to investigate whether those arrested just look for lame excuses or whether they are telling the truth? About working conditions on board for example? As a reason for treason? Or the contrary. Will there be a witness of the crown? And if so, which crown for which reason?

Will it be possible to follow the paper trail? Experts in international piracy issues have always been indicating (to me) that there exists so called shipping intelligence, people carrying out investigation for the purpose to use the knowledge of type and location of cargo in order to order which ship to attack where and how. But never ever, at least to my knowledge, those responsible for piracy have been named as being behind it or taken into custody. (see my reporting on TV at “The File” = Die Akte aired on SAT.1, October, 5 th 1999).

For which reasons? Did ever anybody dare to try it? And if so who with which consequence? Did an investigator really faced threats that forced him into poverty? Or did investigators not even start to try it? Or did investigators gain every information but didn´t achieve justice at courts leading to take into their own hands what to them was justice?  And to those who don´t know about the development, who don´t know about history, such actions carried out would be either labelled as criminal, as piracy or – very seldom and this remarkable – as the arrest of a ship. In contrast to statistics on piracy one wouldn´t find data on the arrest of ships on the homepage of the International Maritime Organization IMO (see in order to be able to compare the discriptions and thereby distinguishing one incident from the other.

Given this background, what does this tell us about the intention to create a new tribunal? Will it be just another institution? Just one more governmental body ensuring positions for notables without any factual influence? Or will it be the chance to start right from the scrap and unify every jurisdictial aspects that might come along with an act of piracy and which had been partialized artificially up till now?

How many trials for titles of property in shipping industry could and should in reality be prosecuted as hostile take overs and as such as acts of white collar piracy?

And how are business delinquency and capital crime linked together?

Does economic competition lead to order attacks on ships of competitors, or less profane, does competition among producers of cargo and/or their state of origin lead to acts of piracy on order?

Could one trace back parts of so called globalization to mere racketeering?

Which investment in which areas had not been made out of positive climate for investors but out of mere force? And if so by whom? By private criminal gangs or state driven crime, as authors of Jane´s Defence Weekly indicated in the late 90´s; at least as far as state driven piracy is concerned.

In 1999 capital crime was indeed “capital crime”, according to Janes, leading right into the capital of Beijing.

photographed by susanne haerpfer in singapore

photographed by susanne haerpfer in singapore

And today? Would an international tribunal trace piracy, even it were to Washington, Berlin, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur? And if so, is this the real background of the discussion? We will face huge international trials that deal with matters of terrorism. As already today it has been difficult to diffentiate between pirates and terrorists. At the latest since the damage of the Japanese tanker M. Star is suspected to be a terroristic attack according to a report published by the United Arab Emirates state news agency

photographed by susanne haerpfer

photographed by susanne haerpfer

Attacks on ships have to be considered as potential terroristic acts versus “simple” piracy. Trials on terrorism imply possible revenge. Therefor it has to be asked whether behind the scenes this new tribunal for piracy purposes is debated in order to evade retailiation by involved parties. Germany has faced this experience befor when sentencing Iranians responsible for the terroristic attack on the Restaurant Mykonos in 1998 as well as those early investigations in the Al Kassar case that has lead to conviction at the United States District Court Southern District of New York in 2008 (see also: Manfred Morstein “Der Pate des Terrors”, Piper Publishing house Munich Zurich, 1989, and:

Given this history, means, encouraging a new trial can be a form of “bail out” in every respect of the word.

It can be preventing direct threats; against the sovereignty of the state as well as against lives of citizens. It can secure the wrecked boat of the shipping industry by best practise of international jurisdiction. But it can also signify to leave the hit aircraft – but with passengers on board, knowing and what is worse, doing business with those masterminds of terror who are responsible for terroristic attacks – being carried out against airships as well as against conventional freighters at sea.

(see also on the issue of Maritime security and International law: my Research Note published by Bits, Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security in March 2003, ISSN 1434-7687  IMO ILO ILO Die Weltschiffahrtsorganisation sucht Antworten auf den Terrorismus auf See,