GCC needs to plan for terror disasters says police chief

Lt Gen Tamim says the region lacks any co-ordinated programme to deal with oil spills or other environmental catastrophes caused by terrorism.

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DUBAI // The chief of Dubai Police has called on GGC countries to draft a unified plan for dealing with environmental disasters resulting from terrorist attacks.

"We know the region is at threat, and the incident of the Japanese oil tanker confirms this," said Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, referring to the M Star, which was damaged in the Strait of Hormuz on July 28. The vessel, en route from Al Ruwais to Tokyo and carrying 270,000 tonnes of oil, is said to have been hit by a small boat loaded with explosives.

"The threat, especially to oil tankers which pass through the Arabian Gulf, could come from terrorism groups or even from our Northern border," Lt General Tamim said. He made the comments at a workshop on the role of police in protecting the environment. While the damage sustained by the M Star did not result in an oil spill, Gen Tamim said the region lacks any co-ordinated programme to deal with spills or other environmental disasters.

"We need to have plans for how to deal with future environmental disasters which might be the result of such attacks. We cannot wait until we have a disaster before we start thinking of solutions; we need to have them in place," he said. "There should be specialised teams equipped with the right training and equipment who would be able to act quickly and efficiently in such a crisis," said Gen Tamim, adding that he hoped the Ministry of Environment would suggest the same to its counterparts in other GCC countries.

He emphasised that protecting the environment is an important role for law enforcement authorities, as safeguarding the environment is essential to state security. "Investigating environmental crimes is considered one of the most difficult legal missions, requiring specialised expertise and the development of skills of those working with such crimes." Among the crimes Dubai Police investigate are fishing in prohibited areas or seasons, polluting by individuals or companies and the illegal dumping of chemicals.

Gen Tamim's comments came after an announcement on Monday by security officials at the Critical National Infrastructure Authority that the UAE would provide armed escorts to oil tankers in the capital's waters.