A 28-year-old Kuwaiti trained at one of the most prestigious maritime training schools in the UK has reportedly fled to Syria and joined the Islamic State (Isis). This has raised fears that the extremist group could use his knowledge of British maritime activities to attack the country's shipping fleet.
Ali Alosaimi underwent training at South Tyneside College's Marine School in South Shields for three years on a Merchant Navy officer's course before joining the militant group in April 2014, Daily Mail's MailOnline reported. He, however, did not complete the course.
Alosaimi's association with IS (Daesh) was revealed when his personal details were found among a cache of leaked IS documents. The Daily Mail reported seeing the documents, which show that he had enrolled for a three-year Merchant Navy officer course in 2011 at South Tyneside College's Marine School in South Shields. Before coming to the UK, he worked for a state-owned oil tanker company in Kuwait.
His former housemate in South Shields revealed that the Kuwaiti was radicalised by watching videos showing troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad killing Syrians. "He went to Syria because he was angry about Assad. All Muslims are angry, but Ali acted on it," Alosaimi's housemate was quoted by the news publication as saying. He also said that Alosaimi was two exams away from obtaining his marine licence, when he fled to Syria. Alosaimi's family in Kuwait confirmed he was radicalised in the final year of his course, began growing a beard and started preaching and urging teenage relatives to join IS.
"This suddenly raises the spectre of IS damaging shipping," warned former Royal Navy chief Admiral Lord West, as reported by the publication. "Someone with his knowledge opens up a whole new area where terrorism can take place I think the most danger is posed by IS acquiring a Liquid Natural Gas container. These are highly flammable and could cause a very large explosion. Britain and the US have been worried about this for some time."
Gavin Simmonds, director of security at the UK Chamber of Shipping, was quoted as saying, "An individual with three years' experience in this area with the Merchant Navy would be of use to a terror organisation intent upon targeting shipping. The idea of an insider with such knowledge joining the crew of, say, an oil tanker is unnerving.
"There is a significant environmental risk should there be such a spectacular attempt by terrorists, and this is profoundly worrying. However, we must balance concerns against the ability of an individual to cause such an incident," Simmonds added.