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Bin Laden, Africom and the Pirates
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006
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Location: Perth, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:27 pm    Post subject: Bin Laden, Africom and the Pirates Reply with quote

Africom has been struggling to set up a command base in Africa following wide spread African opposition and currently resides at European Headquarters in Stutgart.


Now Somalia's president Abdullahi Yusuf is welcoming international intervention against Somali pirates roaming a main East-West shipping route.


CNN come up with film shot by the pirates themselves obtained through a third party (probably the one that supplied the previous Bin Laden and Zarqawi tapes) Wink

With the Russian navy on the way to join other G8 navies to combat the growing piracy & islamic fundamentalism problem, maybe Somalia is that ideal base Africom has been so desperately seeking.

"Any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." Voltaire
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Don Smith

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Location: Erehwon

PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pirates of the Horn: U.S. Backs Reign of Crime and Death in Somalia
Written by Chris Floyd

The civilian death count from the American-backed "regime change" operation in Somalia is approaching 10,000, with more than 800 killed in the Terror War slaughter since June.

The figures, compiled by the Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization in Mogadishu, are almost certainly an undercount, given the rampant chaos that has ravaged the country in the wake of the Ethiopian invasion, and the Muslim practice of quick burial of the dead. But they are horrific enough, especially when added to another statistic released by the United Nations last month: 3.7 million Somalis are now in need of outside aid in order to survive. This is more than one-third of the entire population.

I have written often of what is happening in Somalia, and the American government's direct role in it, and the total silence of America's bipartisan political establishment about this vast atrocity. I won't recapitulate the horror and terror -- and American complicity -- here at the moment, but links to many of these pieces can be found in this recent post.

Meanwhile, a new piece in The Times is worth noting. It is offered as a sidebar to a larger story on the continuing plague of piracy based in Somalia, but it contains some telling facts and a good capsule description of the origins of the Terror War operation.

For one thing, it notes something that is almost never mentioned in any story about Somalia, neither in the very rare stories about the conflict itself or the rather more numerous stories about piracy and its effects on commercial shipping (an issue far more important that the lives of 10,000 innocent human beings, of course): the fact that the main backers and bankrollers of the vicious pirate gangs "are linked to the Western-backed government."

The conservative UK paper then goes on to give an accurate account of how these pirate-backing factions came to power -- facts that are almost universally ignored by the "liberal" American media . (Not to mention the "progressive blogosphere;" indeed, you can actually find more references to the Somalia war in the corporate press than among our internet "dissidents.") :

Years of violence, neglect and misguided policies have left Somalia one of the most dangerous countries and a breeding ground for the pirates attacking one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Today the northeast area of the country, including Puntland, has been carved up by warlords who finance themselves by drug and gun running. This is also the heartland of the pirates, whose main backers are linked to the Western-backed government. Radical Islamists control much of the south, including the key port of Kismayo and the porous border area with Kenya, a staunch Western ally.

This has realised a Western nightmare, which was supposed to have been destroyed by Ethiopia’s American-backed invasion of Somalia two years ago in support of a puppet government created by the international community. That alliance spanned the spectrum from extreme radicals to moderate, devout Muslims. The latter were in charge.

Everyone – except Pentagon planners, it seems – knew that Somalia had never proved fertile territory for Saudi-style radical Islam. However, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas by Ethiopia, Somalia’s historic enemy, with huge casualties, put an end to that. The Islamists were driven out, the moderates went into exile and the hardliners took control of the south with a popular powerbase beyond their wildest dreams.

A puppet government, installed by foreign invasion, riddled with crime and corruption, alienating and radicalizing the population: here we see the quintessential template of the "War on Terror," replicated faithfully in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia -- and soon, perhaps, in Pakistan.

Mass death, mass ruin and immeasurable human suffering: this is what the War on Terror does. This is what the War on Terror is all about. It can have no other outcome. When someone supports the War on Terror -- as Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden all do, with eagerness and enthusiasm -- this is what they are embracing. They are dipping their hands in innocent blood.


"A bayonet is a tool with a worker on both ends."- V.I.Lenin
Patriotism is a manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've got no hidden agenda..... Really.
Honest..... We swear......

US Africom 'has no hidden agenda'

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The head of the new US military command for Africa (Africom) has told
the BBC it has "no hidden agenda".

General William Ward said the command would not be used to gain
control of African natural resources such as oil.

He also dismissed fears that the US intended to build large military bases
on the continent.

Only one country, Liberia, has offered to host Africom, which is coming
into full operation at its headquarters in the German city of Stuttgart.

General Ward said the location of the headquarters, for its 1,300 military
and civilian personnel, was less of a concern, given the size of the African

The BBC's Adam Mynott says the creation of Africom is a recognition by
the US that Africa and security issues on the continent are now a priority.

It reflects concerns about tackling Islamist extremism, securing oil
supplies, and countering Chinese influence in Africa, he says.

But its creation has been met with considerable scepticism, our
correspondent says.

However General Ward said Africom did not intend to help the US get
control of more of Africa's oil and other resources.

"There is no hidden agenda. It is about working with the African nations to
help them build their capacity," the general told the BBC's World Today

He said it was a "myth" and "absolutely not the case" that the command
was going to build big bases in Africa.

"We will do those things in partnership with our African friends," he said.

"Where we bring in, for instance, trainers or other forms of military
support and assistance
there, they are only so long as is required to
conduct the specific training that we've been asked to do or to conduct
the specific activities."


Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.
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Don Smith

Joined: 02 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Where we bring in, for instance, trainers or other forms of military
support and assistance there, they are only so long as is required to
conduct the specific training that we've been asked to do or to conduct
the specific activities."

That some of these activities may take a century or more is not mentioned.

"A bayonet is a tool with a worker on both ends."- V.I.Lenin
Patriotism is a manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The West already has control of Africa's resources, although China in the last decade has created a huge presence, aprx a million relocating to Africa, settlers, a wild new frontier for Chinese immigration.

Gen. Kip Ward is a decorated flunky for the West and surely knows the US has neither the money or means to "build big bases" in Africa - not after Afghanistan/Iraq and various other ventures still being maintained. Maybe the Chinese will help the West out.

Also, I'm not so sure I believe in the G8 theory, too many there to get along for very long - as these folks will crawl over the body of their dead father to f*ck thier own mother if it gives them power for their "reign of crime and death."

I don't care for the hyperbole of Floyd. Guys like this write mostly prosy opinions for the "left" who have no more grasp of the facts on the ground than the conservative gasbags. The "left" seems to consistently miss how often Europe, China, and Latin America back regimes hither and yon and "dip their hands in innocent blood."

Grousing builds many a career.

There is a side of every competitor that wants to leave his opponent lifeless and demoralized on the side of the road. And then there is that other, darker side.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The MSM has cranked the pirate psy-op up a notch and is now calling it a "Global Threat" quoting a new fable from the gospel of Chatham House. "Somali Piracy: A Growing Issue for Africa and the International Community"

The paper argues that Somali pirates could become agents of international terrorist networks.
The irony is, this statement is absolutely true but it is lost on the author because he works for them too.

So who really are the pirates?

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Abdullahi Yusuf is backed by the USA and Ethiopian troops who toppled the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (ICU) over much of south and central Somalia in December 2006.

In the 6 month reign of the ICU attacks on passing ships all but stopped.
See the graph in the UNOSAT map "Reported Incidents of Pirate Attacks & Hijackings off the Coast of Somalia (2007)"

The associated graph represents the number of reported pirate attacks since January 2005. Of special interest is the apparent reduction of pirate activity during the period of Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) control, as well as the rising levels of activity following the Ethiopian intervention in December 2006.

Back in April, Four of the six Somali pirates arrested for kidnapping a French luxury yacht are related to Somali President Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed.

Official Le Point version if you can read French:

Thanks to b real for the leads at:

"Any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." Voltaire
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James D

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All they really want is the money, but if they don't pay up, just imagine the "rebels" running around in 30 odd of these :-

T-72. Satan's tank.

Talk about taking things to the next level!!
Africom just shat a large brick! Shocked
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Jerry Fletcher

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject: Mixed messages... Reply with quote

kiwikeith wrote:
With the Russian navy on the way to join other G8 navies to combat the growing piracy & islamic fundamentalism problem, maybe Somalia is that ideal base Africom has been so desperately seeking.

I think you're absolutely right. As long as 'energy security' remains a G8 priority, Africom HQ ain't going nowhere.

Now that the African continent has been thoroughly conquered, er, I mean saved through the 'humanitarian' efforts of the global energy cartel, a permanent Africom HQ in Djibouti would be strategically well located to 'protect' the Gulf of Adan from Capt. Mohammed Hook and other extended family members of Somali President Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed.

In addition, it provides an excellent opportunity to keep an eye on the strait of Bab Al Mandab, strategically crucial for global petroleum distribution. Not only that, they can keep a close eye on the 17 mile bridge between Yemen and Africa being built by Osama bin Laden's half brother!


Proposed Yemen-Djibouti Bridge Threatens AFRICOM Security

By Chris Heffelfinger, Olivier Guitta

Two major developments to unfold in the coming years signal Africa's growing strategic importance, especially the Horn of Africa (HoA). As of October 1, the African continent came under the auspices of a newly created U.S. military command, AFRICOM, establishing one staff responsible for affairs with the 53 African states (http://www.africom.mil). The second development, potentially far more troubling, is the newly announced project to build the world's longest bridge—17 miles connecting Yemen and Djibouti—under Tarek bin Laden's Middle East Development LLC.

The United States may finally be recognizing the significance of Africa to its own national interests. On the economic level, access to African oil and the will to counter China's increasing presence on the continent are vital strategic interests that are pushing Washington to rationalize its approach. The U.S. wants to see its share of African oil imports go from 15% to 25% by 2015. In light of this, the security issue is paramount, and explains why U.S. involvement in Africa is growing. Recent U.S. military action in HoA more than showed the need for a dedicated military command to counter al-Qaeda's presence and operations in the region. At the end of 2006, the U.S. military helped Ethiopian troops in their rapid assault against Somalia's Islamic Courts Union, and in January 2007 American planes bombarded southern Somalia near the Kenyan border to unofficially strike an al-Qaeda site. Dating back to the 1990s, bin Laden and his organization have had operational ties to eastern Africa; first with Sudan, then of course in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The proposed construction of a bridge connecting Yemen and Djibouti, however, is likely to threaten the ongoing U.S. mission in Africa.

Not to mention, provide a perfect justification for a permanent security force in Djibouti. Oh yeah, and make it a hell of a lot easier to get all that oil out of Yemen - or tanks in, for that matter.

HoA: al-Qaeda Breeding Ground?

On the military and counter-terrorism level, Washington's policy is clear: make sure that grey zones—the African "ungoverned spaces"—do not become a breeding ground for al-Qaeda. Yet, despite the conventional wisdom decreeing al-Qaeda's desire to operate in failed states, recently declassified Harmony documents illustrate the serious challenges that the terrorist group has faced while operating in Somalia. The internal al-Qaeda situation reports found that the rampant warlordism prevalent in Somalia made it too difficult to do business. There were simply too many separate leaders to pay-off who were ultimately unreliable partners.

Yemen, on the other hand, provides an ideal location for al-Qaeda operations, aside from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security services. Indeed, there has been much Salafi militancy in Yemen as of late. On July 14, an al-Qaeda militant drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a group of Spanish tourists visiting the ancient temple of the Queen of Sheba in Marib, killing eight Spaniards and two Yemenis (BBC News, July 14). In turn, Yemeni security services killed four al-Qaeda militants involved in the attack, one of whom escaped from a Sanaa prison last year. That escape, in which 23 prisoners fled through underground tunnels leading to a neighboring mosque, has only focused the spotlight further on Yemen's security shortfalls. Some of those men—including al-Qaeda militants involved in the attacks on the USS Cole—are believed to be hiding near the Saudi border (al-Wasat, September 12; Terrorism Monitor, September 27).

Since 2000, a spate of al-Qaeda attacks have been conducted in Yemen, aimed at destabilizing the U.S.-allied Saleh government. Seventeen American sailors were killed in the attack on the USS Cole off the port of Aden. Two years later, a similar attack was carried out against the French tanker Limburg, killing one and injuring 12. Other attacks have since been directed at oil facilities employing foreign workers. Even before these incidents, the Yemeni-Saudi border held the reputation of being one of the most notorious gun-running areas in the region (Terrorism Focus, April 8, 2004). Moreover, Abd al-Majid al-Zindani's school, Jami'at al-Iman (Faith University), has produced a number of al-Qaeda militants, not to mention the even more nefarious Dar al-Hadith school in Dammaj, where reports of foreign students coming home in body bags made their way to the international press last March (Agence France-Presse, March 26). Then, a French and a British student, both converts attending the madrassa, were killed in skirmishes with Shiite rebels. The two were apparently part of a group of foreign students armed by school leaders to act as guards at night. The Salafi school appears to have been providing military training to its students as well as ideological instruction.

Al-Qaeda's activity and infrastructure in Yemen indicates a growing presence in the country, despite President Saleh's cooperation with the U.S. war on terrorism. It is, of course, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, with his father hailing from the valley of Hadramawt, in eastern Yemen, to the south of the Empty Quarter (al-rub` al-khali). Some terrorism experts have even questioned whether bin Laden has sought refuge in one of these areas after losing his sanctuary in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Interestingly enough, the United States seems all the more aware of the dangerous situation in Yemen. As proof, on August 26, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa warned its employees to avoid tourist sites, restaurants and shopping malls. Explaining that the risk of terrorist attacks against Westerners was considered high (al-Qaeda might want to lead a new terror wave campaign), they were recommended not to leave their workplace or residence except in case of a major emergency (al-Watan, August 2Cool.

Bridging the African Divide

Impacting these developments is a planned bridge connecting Yemen and Djibouti. This past April, the Dubai-based Middle East Development LLC issued a notice-to-proceed to Noor City Development Corp., based in Napa, CA, authorizing the firm to "proceed with the planning, development, construction and management of the bridge between Yemen and Djibouti" (Engineering News Record, May 1). The Saudi billionaire and half-brother to Osama, Tarek Bin Laden, heads the project, estimated at $10-20 billion. The project enjoys the full support of the presidents of Djibouti and Yemen.

Yet, Tarek Bin Laden's pedigree should add additional concerns. More than merely a developer, in the 1990s he was general supervisor of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a fraudulent Saudi group designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as having aided al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups' fundraising efforts. The IIRO, or Hay'at al-Igatha al-Islamiya al-'Alamiyaa, is one of eight bodies under the umbrella of the Mecca-based Muslim World League (WML). The IIRO's terrorist ties go back to the first Afghan jihad against the Soviets, when Osama bin Laden's Maktab al-Khidmat (Office of Services) worked with Wael Julaidan, then with the IIRO and WML (Government's Evidentiary Proffer Supporting the Admissibility of Co-Conspirator Statements, United States of America v. Enaam Arnaout, Jan. 6, 2003). The IIRO provided logistical support to the mujahideen and Julaidan, according to the federal government, and "was a leading supporter of the jihad through the relief organization network." On August 3, 2006, the Treasury Department designated the Philippine and Indonesian branches of the IIRO, as well as its Saudi executive director, "for facilitating fundraising for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups." The group was identified as a major fundraiser for Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya.

All of this begs the question: how could Osama bin Laden's half-brother be constructing a bridge linking Yemen to the HoA at the birth of AFRICOM? The project physically and figuratively links al-Qaeda in Arabia to the African continent, posing a serious long-term security dilemma. For the next year, the nascent AFRICOM will take over responsibilities from EUCOM, under the recently confirmed General William E. Ward. This new structure will not mean more U.S. military troops on African soil. The only U.S. soldiers present (1,800 in all) will be the ones already stationed in Djibouti, a potentially short drive from Yemen.

In fact, the U.S. military decided to settle in Djibouti after the September 11 attacks for a few reasons. First, Djibouti is crucially located at the Horn of Africa. Second, it is a moderate Muslim country and is politically stable amid a chaotic region. U.S. Rear Admiral James Hart, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), U.S. Central Command, recently explained to Le Monde: "In 2002, we thought that al-Qaeda might move from Afghanistan to Africa and we wanted to have a military force here. We also wanted our soldiers to train Africans in order for them to get professional armies, capable of fighting off the terrorist threat. But this threat did not materialize as we thought it would." Third, Djibouti is a safe location, due to the long-standing presence of French troops, whose mission is to protect Djibouti.

In light of this secure environment, Americans came to Djibouti with little military firepower: two combat companies, a few Blackhawk helicopters, a C-130 transport plane, three to four P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircrafts; but no fighter jets. It appears that the United States is there to stay; indeed, it recently renewed its lease for five more years with an option for 10 additional, and the size of the camp has just been multiplied by five.

Six years after the September 11 attacks, it is baffling to imagine a project under Tarek bin Laden, through a California-based firm, linking Yemen to Africa. Taking into regard al-Qaeda's growing presence in Yemen, it is even more puzzling as to how the U.S. envisions this project promoting greater security or helping to combat terrorism in the region. What does seem a given, however, is that U.S. troops (at the only U.S. base in Africa) could end up being at far greater risk than they are today.


That sorta sends mixed messages to the terrorists, don't it? The pirates are bummin, but the car bombers are psyched!

Thanks to b real for the leads at:

I'll second that, and thank you for the link to that excellent analysis.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jerry, Good find on the bridge.

Another thing that might come into play here is the international call for the recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign nation. Some minor movements in the background. Very strategic and next to Djibouti.


In 2006 the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued a number of recommendations for strengthening U.S.-African policy, in which it called Somaliland's capital Hargeisa a strategic location in the global war on terror and criticized the lack of a U.S. presence there.


"Any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." Voltaire
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Jerry Fletcher

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject: Pirates shoot for the stars! Reply with quote

Well, shiver me timbers!
Capt. Mohammad Hook and Co. kick it up a notch.
Now they’re bagging some serious booty - a $200 million supertanker jackpot!


Pirates seize oil tanker off East Africa coast

A brazen attack far out at sea, on a huge tanker with a capacity of 2 million barrels, raises concerns about the regional menace. The pirates appeared to be steering the ship to Somalia.
By Borzou Daragahi and Edmund Sanders

November 18, 2008

Reporting from Beirut and Nairobi, Kenya — In their most brazen raid yet, suspected Somali pirates operating deep in open waters have seized an oil tanker as long as an aircraft carrier, the U.S. military in the Middle East said Monday.

So audacious and unusual was the Indian Ocean attack that it caught the attention of America's top military official, who expressed shock at the pirates' ability to strike so far from shore.

"I'm stunned by the range of it," said Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, commenting at a Pentagon news conference Monday. "Four hundred fifty [nautical] miles away from the coast, that is the furthest, the longest distance I've seen for any of these incidents."

The Liberian-flagged Sirius Star, one in a class of ships that stretch longer than three football fields and can carry 2 million barrels of oil, is also the largest vessel yet to be attacked by pirates, said Navy Lt. Nathan Christensen of the U.S. 5th Fleet.

The attack appeared to mark an escalation by Somali pirates in response to a recent international crackdown. After the capture of a weapons-laden Ukrainian vessel in September, the U.S., the European Union and Russia all sent warships to patrol the dangerous waters and confront pirates. The Ukrainian ship and its crew are still being held off the coast of the East African country as its owners negotiate with the pirates, who are seeking a multimillion-dollar ransom.

Pirates typically attack within 200 miles of shore and go after much smaller prey, Christensen said. But in the case of the oil tanker, the assailants, who are holding hostage a multinational crew of 25, appear to be "fundamentally changing the way they're doing business," he said.

The Sirius Star, built in South Korea and owned by Saudi Aramco, had apparently been heading south toward the Cape of Good Hope, around Africa's southern tip, en route to North America, when it was raided Saturday.

On Monday, it appeared to be on its way to Somalia. The pirates issued no immediate demands, Christensen said by phone from Manama, Bahrain, where the 5th Fleet is based.

The raid did little to roil the depressed oil market, but it did raise major security concerns.

About five years ago, pirates seized the Dewi Madrim, a chemical tanker passing through the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia, but stayed on board only briefly after seizing the technical manuals. Security specialists are concerned that pirates might someday seize a tanker carrying pressurized liquefied natural gas, or LNG, then blow it up or sell it to terrorists.

"If it was an LNG tanker seized, we're looking at something potentially catastrophic," said Candyce Kelshall, a specialist in maritime energy security at Blue Water Defence, a Trinidad-based firm that provides training to governments and companies combating piracy. "An LNG tanker going up is like 50 Hiroshimas."

Mullen said he was not surprised that pirates were able to capture such a massive vessel, because they are often so lightly manned.

The Sirius Star's crew of 25, consisting of citizens of Britain, Poland, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, was actually double the size of that manning some supertankers.

Shipping firms under pressure to maximize profits often staff the huge high-tech tankers with as few as 12 sailors. They frequently get around maritime regulations by designating the cook as the security officer after a brief training course, security specialist Kelshall said.

Military officials did not say how they believed the pirates managed to overwhelm the crew. Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, speculated that the assailants must have been highly organized and used numerous vessels.

A mother ship probably would have launched two or more smaller craft, perhaps high-speed inflatable rafts with four to six gunmen in each, said Cyrus Mody, manager of the London-based International Maritime Bureau, in a telephone interview.

After the boats reach their target, pirates armed with assault rifles typically throw ladders with hooks onto the ship rails, making a bee-line for the bridge to take control of the vessel's nerve center and the engine room.

"Once they have actually gained access there's really very little that the crew could actually do to try to protect themselves," Mody said.

Piracy is yet another challenge to the already formidable tasks faced by incoming U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. David H. Petraeus in a region stretching from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia and including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the battle against Al Qaeda militants.

"As is evident with the attack on Sirius Star, increasingly daring attacks are being conducted by Somali pirates on a variety of merchant vessels," the 5th Fleet statement said.

World oil markets took only brief notice of the hijacking, jumping to $58.98 per barrel before closing at $54.95, down $2.09 from Friday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Had the hijacking taken place earlier in the year, before the world's leading economies began reeling and international demand for oil fell, it might have kicked the price of oil up $5 or more, analysts said.

"Now, there is so much spare oil capacity out there that the markets barely responded," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago.

The U.S. and allied nations set up a joint security patrol in response to the hijackings off Somalia; the Navy says it has reduced the rate of successful piracy attacks from 53% in August to 31% in October. Last week, a British warship fended off an attack on a Danish commercial vessel, with officers boarding the pirates' ship and exchanging gunfire that resulted in the deaths of at least two attackers.

"Our presence in the region is helping deter and disrupt criminal attacks off the Somali coast, but the situation with the Sirius Star clearly indicates the pirates' ability to adapt their tactics and methods of attack," said U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of the Combined Maritime Forces.

Somali government officials, who have limited resources, said piracy off their coast requires an international response because it threatens busy trade routes along Africa's coast and the Gulf of Aden. But some criticized the current international effort as short-sighted because it bypasses Somalia's U.N.-recognized transitional government.

Gortney said military forces could not be everywhere at once and urged commercial shippers to employ "self-protection measures," including hiring private security contractors. In the last 15 piracy attacks, at least 10 vessels failed to employ some sort of defensive mechanism, the Navy said.

"Companies don't think twice about using security guards to protect their valuable facilities ashore," the naval commander was quoted as saying. "Protecting valuable ships and their crews at sea is no different."

Ironically, the same technology that allows the safe and efficient operation of such large vessels is also what makes them relatively easy to hijack, experts said.

Modern supertankers rely mostly on computers and GPS satellite navigation rather than the expertise of sailors. That means pirates have fewer people to capture and guard, and the ships can be steered safely by one or two people.

Though it might be dangerous to fire off weapons on a tanker filled with oil or natural gas, a well-staffed security detail can defend a ship with water cannons and other tools.

"People aren't sufficiently aware of the dangers they're dealing with," Kelshall said. "In a post-9/11 world, we need to be thinking a lot more strategically."

Daragahi and Sanders are Times staff writers.


This latest stunt ought to punt the piracy problem into the global media spotlight while engendering support for increased western military presence in the Gulf of Adan. Not only because this time the pirates buggered off with a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily crude oil output, but also because piracy at this level threatens the stability of global oil prices. Causing the price of gas to go up right about now will generate little public sympathy for the plight of Somalia. More likely, it will lead to a military ‘solution’ to this spiraling energy security ‘problem’.

It will probably make the government of Yemen think twice about nationalizing any more of their oil reserves as well...

Nevertheless, it’s as if these ‘pirates’ are just begging for a NATO smackdown. IMO, it’s simply a matter of time before that’s exactly what they get.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somalia! Why then it's them damn al-Kiders, I tells ya! They'll be takin' over the whole dang continent soon!

I have to wonder which cop will send the invasion force? The "evil President LaimDukk", or the "compassionate AfroElect"? Guess it all depends on the timing.

Personally, I'd go for LameDukk, since he can do it in opposition to any UN decrees, then we can all cheer when the new Pres explains how this country desperately needs some "global oversight." (wink, wink)

Good to c u bak, JF. Cool

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James D

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bridge makes sense and it would probably be great for business.
Bab-el-Mandeb strait - Gate of Tears - (باب المندب)

The Bab-el-Mandeb, alternatively Bab el Mandab, Bab al Mandab, Bab al Mandib, or Bab al Mandeb meaning "Gate of Tears" in Arabic (باب المندب), is a strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti, north of Somalia in the Horn of Africa, and connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. It is sometimes called the Mandab Strait in English.
The strait derives its name from the dangers attending its navigation, or, according to an Arab legend, from the numbers who were drowned by the earthquake which separated Asia and Africa. In the Arabic translation of Jules Verne's book Around the World in Eighty Days (page 30), it is referred to as the "Bridge of Tears".

Bab el-Mandab acts as a strategic link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. In 2006, an estimated 3.3 million barrels (520,000 m³) of oil passed through the strait per day, out of a world total of about 43 million barrels per day (6,800,000 m³/d) moved by tankers.[1]

The distance across is about 20 miles (30 km) from Ras Menheli in Yemen to Ras Siyan in Djibouti. The island of Perim divides the strait into two channels, of which the eastern, known as the Bab Iskender (Alexander's Strait), is 2 miles (3 km) wide and 16 fathoms (30 m) deep, while the western, or Dact-el-Mayun, has a width of about 16 miles (25 km) and a depth of 170 fathoms (310 m). Near the coast of Djibouti lies a group of smaller islands known as the "Seven Brothers." There is a surface current inwards in the eastern channel, but a strong undercurrent outwards in the western channel.

According to the recent single origin hypothesis, the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb were probably witness to the earliest migrations of modern humans out of Africa, which occurred roughly 60,000 years ago. At this time, the oceans were much lower and the straits were much shallower or dry, allowing a series of emigrations along the southern coast of Asia.

According to Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church tradition, the straits of Bab-el-Mendeb were witness to the earliest migrations of Semitic Ge'ez speakers into Africa, occurring roughly around the same time as the Hebrew patriarch Jacob.

On February 22, 2008, it was revealed that a company owned by Tarek bin laden was planning to build a bridge across the strait, linking Yemen with Djibouti.
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bab-el-Mandeb

As for the pirates, did you catch the BIG detail?
Four hundred fifty [nautical] miles away from the coast!!!

Like, where's that???
A long as you're not a crew member or a tanker owner, there is something admirable about these guys. Is it the romantic idea of Johnny Depps and Errol Flynns sailing around and sticking it, BIG TIME, to the "Man"?

And all this with the BIG super navies of the super powerful G numbers supposedly prancing around all over the area?

I mean, these guys are good ...maybe too good!
And something should definately be done! We can't have pirates running around stealing boats full of tanks and arms sales or tankers full of oil! What the hell is everything coming to?!!

My favourite "pirate" was Ruaraidh of Barra, he used to sack gold-laiden English galleys on their way back from the Americas in the early 1600's - but that's another story - I'll tell you some day, if you like.

Oh, and just for the record - "Sir" Francis Drake in Spain is referred to as Drake , yes you gussed it, The "PIRATE"!! Depends on your point of view I suppose! Laughing
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