Saturday, November 05, 2005

Modern day Piracy

In todays news, an article about pirates attacking a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia caught my eye. Fortunately the captain of the cruise ship and his crew were on alert. The Somali coast is one of the more active pirating areas on the high seas and there is a standing advisory in that region. Piracy has been in business for centuries. In the days of old, pirates were active from the coast of Scotland to the South Pacific. The United States sent US Marines to the shores of Tripoli to put down piracy and protect the United States maritime fleet in the Mediterranian area of operation.

Captain Jayant Abhyanker, Deputy Director of the International Maritime Bureau, include the following quote in a report on piracy seminar that he gave in Singapore in 2000, "The truth is that modern piracy…is a violent, bloody, ruthless practice…made the more fearsome by the knowledge on the part of the victims that they are on their own and absolutely defenceless and that no help is waiting just round the corner."

In 2003, World Net Daily (WND) ran a series of article citing intelligence that al-Qaeda was moving in the piracy arena. I am not certain that the Somali incident today could be linked to a-Qaeda, but, it is feasible. Terrorist have used cruise ships as backdrops for the violence in the past. We should brace ourselves for resumed attacks in the future. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when it will strike again.

In 1985, Abul Abbas and three other heavily armed Palestine Liberation Front terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt. The hijackers demand that Israel free 50 Palestinian prisoners. During the hijacking, Abbas' men terrorists shot a disabled American tourist, 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer, and throw his body overboard with his wheelchair. (My, how brave these terrorists were without anyone to challenge them.)

After a two-day drama, the hijackers surrender in exchange for a pledge of safe passage. But , U.S. Navy F-14 fighters intercept a jet liner and force it to land in Sicily. The terrorists were taken into custody by Italian authorities. The Italians later released Abbas who eventually found refuge in Iraq until his capture in 2003.

Todays news:

Pirates Attack Cruise Ship Off Somalia
Nov 05 1:10 PM US/Eastern

Pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade and machine guns Saturday in an attack on a luxury cruise liner off the east African coast, the vessel's owners said. Two armed boats approached..At least 23 hijackings and attempted seizures have been recorded off the Somalia coastline since mid-March, according to International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has warned ships to stay as far away from the coast as possible.

Piracy increasing on Somali coast
London, 15 August 2005

The ICC’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports that acts of piracy are increasing at an alarming rate off the eastern coast of Somalia. Fifteen violent incidents have taken place since mid-March of this year. This is a dramatic increase compared with only two such attacks in all of 2004. Ships sailing in these waters are advised to be extremely cautious.

Piracy heats up in Somali waters
London, 21 June 2005

ICC’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) warns that acts of piracy are on the rise in Somali waters. Since March 2005, there have been at least five attempted hijackings, two of which escalated into full blown acts of life-threatening piracy. This rise in threatening activity comes after a period of relative calm. Only two incidents of piracy were recorded in the whole of 2004.....Innocent craft are approached by numerous pirate craft, arriving from different directions, firing indiscriminately at the bridge in an attempt to force the vessel to stop. In recent attacks at least one crew member was killed after pirates took control of a vessel.....”Pirates in Somali waters have targeted everything that floats from fishing vessels and yachts to bulk carriers, general cargo ships and even a tanker aiming to steal valuables from the ship, or holding the crew for ransom.

World Net Daily (WND) Dec. 28, 2003
Queen Mary 2 threatened, Osama's terror armada said carrying mines

Al-Qaida targeting cruise ships, aircraft carriers: U.S. intelligence officials say al-Qaida has turned its terror sights to a sea jihad, targeting Western luxury liners and aircraft carriers.


WND, Sep 30, 2003
New al-Qaida threat:15-ship mystery navy U.S., Brits fear high-seas terror posed by bin Laden's vessels

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has purchased at least 15 ships in the last two years – creating, perhaps, the first terrorist naval force, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin. Lloyds of London has reportedly helped Britain's MI6 and the U.S. CIA trace the sales made through a Greek shipping agent suspected of having direct contacts with bin Laden, the online intelligence newsletter reported.

Somalia and al-Qaeda: Implications for the War on Terrorism
by James A. Phillips, April 5, 2002

The United States has made considerable progress in its war against international terrorism. It has uprooted Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist group--and the radical Islamic Taliban regime that protected it--from Afghanistan. Yet, despite his military setback in Afghanistan and the arrest of over 1,300 al-Qaeda suspects in over 70 countries, bin Laden's terrorist network remains "the most immediate and serious threat" to American security, according to CIA Director George Tenet. Largely expelled from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda may seek to regroup in another country where it could count on some degree of local support. Somalia is such a place. It is a failed state whose lawless anarchy would permit terrorists to operate relatively freely. Al-Qaeda has operated there in the past and has worked with a radical Somali group, al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI or "Islamic Unity"), since the early 1990s. Somalia also has a long seacoast with numerous unpatrolled ports that could provide easy entry for al-Qaeda terrorists fleeing from Afghanistan via Pakistan or Iran by sea.


We must protect United States interests. There is no room for appeasment or apology. America cannot give up the war on terrorism and must remain ever diligent. The free western world depends on our resolve.


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Cross-posted:
The Bosun Locker
Navy Corner at MSN

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