Saturday, September 11, 2010

Somali Pirates

U.S. Forces Free Ship From Somali Pirates

"American officials said the rescue appeared to be the first time the American military had boarded a ship commandeered by Somali pirates, who have been hijacking vessel after vessel off Somalia’s coast and wreaking havoc on some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
"The Americans, however, are active in the area. Last year, Navy Seal snipers killed three pirates who were holding an American cargo ship captain in a lifeboat, after he had offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew.
"Despite the intense international naval presence in the region, the pirates are on track to have another banner year, with more than 30 ships hijacked so far in 2010, which has earned them tens of millions of dollars in ransoms. "

However, piracy seems to be becoming fully entrenched in the fabric of Somali political culture: In Somali Civil War, Both Sides Embrace Pirates

"For years, Somalia’s heavily armed pirate gangs seemed content to rob and hijack on the high seas and not get sucked into the messy civil war on land. Now, that may be changing, and the pirates are taking sides — both sides.

"While local government officials in Hobyo have deputized pirate gangs to ring off coastal villages and block out the Shabab, down the beach in Xarardheere, another pirate lair, elders said that other pirates recently agreed to split their ransoms with the Shabab and Hizbul Islam, another Islamist insurgent group.
"The militant Islamists had originally vowed to shut down piracy in Xarardheere, claiming it was unholy, but apparently the money was too good. This seems to be beginning of the West’s worst Somali nightmare, with two of the country’s biggest growth industries — piracy and Islamist radicalism — joining hands."

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