Al-Qaeda, an international terrorist network, is involved in the rising piracy against ships carrying radioactive materials through the Malacca Straits, an expert of regional affairs said.
Panithan Wattana, a Thai scholar, was quoted by Monday's the Bangkok Post newspaper as saying that the terrorist group's aim isto obtain substances such as uranium and plutonium oxide for making deadly chemical weapons.
He obtained the information when attending a recent workshop organized by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) here.
The Malacca Straits, situated between Indonesia's Sumatra island and Malaysia, is not adequately patrolled, which makes suppressing piracy difficult, according to the expert.
Aside from Al-Qaeda, ships passing the straits are also targeted by Sri Lanka's rebellious Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said.
According to IMB figures, there were 649 cases of piracy in thestraits last year, with total losses exceeding 16 million US dollars.
Most pirate groups obtained prior knowledge of the route to be taken by their targets, which they trapped by mooring a vessel on either side. The crew of victim ships are always defenseless and most incidents last within an hour, said Panithan.
He called on governments around the region to act against piracy in the Malacca Straits which affects regional security and economy.
Navies of all Southeast Asian nations should seek to enhance ties and cooperation in exchanging information to curb piracy, urged the expert.