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Friday, November 18, 2005

VOA News: "Somalia Pirates Bold and Well-Organized"

Nice piece here from the Voice of America on the Somali pirates:
Harjit Kelley is a retired commander with the Kenyan navy who is a consultant for the United Nations' Monitoring Group on Somalia.

He estimates that pirates have collected well over one million dollars in ransom during the past few months, and says that factional leaders are coordinating the effort.

Commander Kelley describes to VOA one transaction that took place in April in Kenya's port city of Mombasa to rescue a merchant vessel called Feisty Gas.

He says a Hong Kong shipping company wired $318,000 to a bank in Mombasa. A local shipping agent withdrew the money in three installments, he says, and at different times and locations in Mombasa, handed the money over to a man who appeared to be Somali.

"As soon as this guy got the money, the ship was let go," he said. "It has gone to the warlords who had captured the ship. The warlords are keeping in the background. Their agents go out and arrest the ship. The warlords condemn this to get the world opinion behind them. They say, this is wrong, it is an international crime, but they facilitate their agents to capture these ships.

Commander Kelley says he and his colleagues strongly suspect the ransom is being used to purchase arms.
I suspect that, too, and also expect that the money for things like "Mother Ships" also comes from the same source. And, of course, as their organization and capabilities grow, they are able to increase their range and threaten a larger number of vessels.

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