MoonDawg's Den: Avast, ye scurvy jihadists

MoonDawg's Den

Monday, April 03, 2006

Avast, ye scurvy jihadists

Late last week heavily armed pirates hijacked a UAE oil tanker and took its 19 crew members hostage off the coast of Somalia. The pirates are demanding a ransom for the ship & crew, as was the case when Somalian pirates hijacked an Indian merchant ship in February and held the crew for a month before their release was secured.

The waters near Somalia have become notorious for pirate attacks during the past year, most notably when a passenger cruise liner, the Seabourn Spirit, was attacked by pirates with automatic weapons and RPGs. Fortunately the cruise ship was able to escape the pirate boats thanks to the crew's trained response.

Some worry about a potential connection between al-Qaeda and pirates, especially in the waters of Southeast Asia where there has been an "explosion" of pirate attacks on commercial shipping:
Actual attacks by terrorists have thus far been limited to temporary seizures of vessels and crewmen, but officials express concern over the ease with which large vessels such as oil tankers could be hijacked and used as weapons with which to block commercial waterways or attack one of Southeast Asia’s numerous busy harbors.
There was a lot of hyperbole recently spewed about a UK firm with UAE ownership managing some port operations in the United States. Last week's pirate attack on a UAE oil tanker is a worrisome reminder about where serious concerns should actually be placed regarding international shipping and terrorism.

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