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What do you do with a Somali Pirate?

March 13, 2012

This is a post I’ve been mulling over for some time; this recent news has prompted me to put my thoughts down on at last (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/9122778/Picture-of-fugitive-77-widow-at-Tanzanian-border-released.html). It seems that the not so good Samantha Lewthwaite, widow of one of the London 7/7 bombers is now not only involved in terrorism herself, but could also one of the recipients of ransom money that is paid to Somali pirates.

I now really do wish that I’d put my ideas down when I first had them because at the time that countries started paying money to the Somali pirates I predicted that it would be money that would go beyond the borders and do more than just fund the local population. Sadly, that prediction stayed in my mind and I cannot validate my claim of being a fortune teller.

Way back in November 2009 the BBC reported on the increased problem (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7734985.stm). In this case a holidaying couple were targeted.

It was about that time that I listened to a podcast that broached the issue, in that podcast (I can’t remember the publisher or find it on line now) they raised the point that captured pirates were being incarcerated in the country of the capturing vessel. The captured pirates were then claiming asylum and as a result could not be extradited back to Somalia because without an effective government there was no agreement between Somalia and the capturing country. The captured pirates, on being freed, were then able to live a much better life in their new adopted country. What a great scam.

Not wanting to be loaded up with unwanted Somalis, the various governments involved opted to pay the ransoms (though not all money has actually come from the governments, much has been private money) and deal with it in an easy way. I have always felt this was wrong from the outset, giving in to this form of terrorism is stupid. It only serves to build the confidence of the offenders and generates an income, and therefore a motivation to continue.

My Suggestion

Let’s be blunt about this; shoot to kill and end the problem early. If the pirates know there is significant risk of them being blown out of the water and becoming fish food, they’ll think a bit more about taking the risk.

The aforementioned podcast brought this issue up and the conclusion was that international politics didn’t have the stomach for the task and so they all caved. How pathetic! Scared of being accused of inhuman acts of cruelty and contravening the Geneva Convention the governments of the world let a bunch of desperate pirates morph into an organised bunch of terrorist financiers by giving in and dropping money on them. They would far rather see their own nationals get kidnapped and terrorised than put a well-armed boat in the water and blow up the pirates. It actually makes me angry just thinking about it.

In May 2011 the Guardian spoke to one of the pirates and came away with a warm and cuddly experience (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/24/a-pioneer-of-somali-piracy). That’s because the pirates had by then wizened up and had their activities and revenue stream all neatly packaged. Would such an interview have been as easy or as pleasant in 2009? Highly doubtful.

There has been proposal to allow merchant ships to arm themselves (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14060044). However, I see a problem with this, it’s not official army protection and there will always be the risk of the charge of murder should there be any forceful defence.

So there is a crazy situation where official protection honours the 200 mile national exclusion zone from the coast of Somalia and won’t put up a forceful protection of vessels while nations stump up the cash to pay off the terrorists.

It should not at all be a surprise that the money trail has ended up with Samantha Lewthwaite and other known religious extremists with connections to terror organisations. This might never have happened if politicians had shown some backbone in the first place.

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