Malaysia’s Coast Guard said it has increased security in the narrow waterway, and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told Reuters the country has also stepped up patrols. “Oil tankers can pass, but we will increase our readiness," the minister said.
The original tip-off came from Japan, Reuters quoted a Thai official as saying, which informed the IMB that ships could be hijacked. A bureau official reconfirmed that this was a terror threat, not a piracy threat. (Read about Japan’s increased efforts against piracy here.)
Security analysts have said the Malacca Strait, also bordered by Singapore, is a prime target because more than 30 percent of global trade and half the world’s oil shipments pass through the narrow waterway.
John Harrison, a terrorism expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told the Associated Press that Al Qaeda and the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah would be the most likely to carry out such an attack.
Harrison said Singapore's warning likely reflects a credible threat.
"Both the Singapore navy and Home Affairs Ministry are not bodies that are known to hype any threats," Harrison said. "If they are putting this information out, it means they are very concerned that something may be developing."