Somali Pirates Continue Reign of Terror Off African Coast
by Jim Kouri, CPP
The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter carrying military weapons defiantly demanded $20 million in ransom despite being surrounded by three foreign warships on Sunday.
The spokesmen for the pirates, believed to be members and associates of Al-Qaeda, were contacted via satellite communications. They confirmed that they were surrounded by three foreign warships off Somalia's central coast and said that the captured freighter's crew was "safe and not harmed."
Ali admitted that the ship was surrounded, but he said the pirates would not surrender.
"One of these ships is from the United States and the other two are from European Union countries," he said, without naming the European countries.
In spite of the news media distancing this recent attack on a ship off the coast of Somalia from global terrorism, intelligence experts believe this is just the latest operation initiated against the United States and the West by Al-Qaeda.
Recently a failed assassination attempt on the prime minister of Somalia, as well as the attempt to hijack a luxury American cruise ship, has intensified apprehension and fear that the shaky Somalian government is losing to Al-Qaeda and Wahhabi terror groups.
Three people were mortally wounded in a terrorist attack on the Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi,while he was visiting the war-torn capital of Mogadishu. He survived the deadly encounter which entailed an explosion set off near his convoy, according to security experts. Mr Gedi was merely visiting since his government is in quasi-exile in Jowhar. The danger in the Somali capital is so great that the transitional government must avoid setting up their headquarters there.
Since 2003, Somalia has witnessed the growth of a brutal network of Jihad with strong ties to Al-Qaeda. In fact, when the US forces faced a bloody battle in 1995 during what became known as the Black Hawk Down incident, it was Al-Qaeda joining with a local warlord who killed and wounded US special operations soldiers.
Somalia has been without a functioning national government for 14 years, when they received their independence from Italy. The transitional parliament created in 2004, but has failed to end the devastating anarchy. The impoverish people who live in the ruined capital of Mogadishu have witnessed Al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism agents engaged in a bloody war that few support and even fewer understand.
In an incident that gained some American press attention, Somali-based terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades launched an unsuccessful attack on Seaborn Spirit as it rounded the Horn of Africa with American, British and Australian tourists on board. For unexplained reasons, the attack is being treated as an isolated incident and the terrorism link is being all but ignored by journalists. The term "pirates" is routinely used with only a few reporters calling the attackers "terrorists."
The ship came under attack during the early morning hours when the heavily armed terrorists in two speedboats began firing upon the ship with grenade launchers and machine guns. They assailants were repelled by the ships crew who implemented their security measures which included setting off electronic simulators which created the illusion the ship was firing back at the terrorists..
According to passenger accounts of the attack, there were at least three rocket-propelled grenades or RPGs that hit the ship, one hit a passenger stateroom without inflicting injuries.
There are now some counterterrorism officials who wish to deploy a naval task force to try to prevent attacks, and kill or apprehend these modern-day pirates in Somali waters. Most travel advisories issued by nations throughout the world recognize this area as being among the most dangerous in the world.
There are some who oppose this combative approach fearing the opening of a new front in the war on terrorism. But these opponents of using force have no suggestions for dealing with these dangerous terrorists and thugs who prey on people on land or at sea.
During the 1990s, a group of Saudi-educated, Wahhabi militants arrived in Somalia with the aim of creating an Islamic state in this dismal African country. Also, the renowned Al-Qaeda established an operations base and training camp. They would routinely attack and ambush UN peacekeepers. In addition, they used Somalia to export their brand of terrorism into neighboring Kenya.
Leading members of Al-Qaeda continue to operate, mostly in secrecy, in Somalia and have built up cooperation with some of the warlords who control food, water and medicine. And the people of Somalia starve, mourn and die.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.