So just who is this businesswoman, Michele Lynn Ballarin.
We are told she has connections to US intelligence and military.
Has built a network of clan and sub-clan leaders in every region of the country.
Her travels coincided with the recent spate of pirate attacks and is talking to the pirates who seized the two largest ships that were taken.
Source Watch tells us also that she is President and CEO of Select Armor, Inc. a private military corporation alleged to be involved in planned covert operations in Somali.
She also runs Cambridge Wealth Management Ltd. an investment bank that was under investigation by the Austrian public prosecutor.
She goes by the name of Amira (Arabic for princess) in Somalia.
What about the "Princess Pirate" _________________ "Any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." Voltaire
Joined: 16 Jun 2006 Posts: 3185 Location: Capacious Creek
Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:33 pm Post subject:
Somali pirates holding American captain of cargo ship
Reporting from Washington and Nairobi, Kenya -- The first pirate attack in more than 200 years against a U.S.-flagged vessel off Africa led to a tense standoff today after a crew of Americans retook control of the ship and the hijackers fled into a lifeboat - taking the American captain as a hostage.
The drama began with an early morning attack against a U.S.-registered cargo ship as it traveled far off Somalia's coastline to deliver humanitarian aid to Africa.
The 20-member crew - which was unarmed, according to the ship's owner -- managed to overpower the pirates and regain control, according to U.S. officials.
But the ship's captain was reportedly being held captive by some of the pirates, who have been driven into the ship's lifeboat, according to an American defense official.
The surprising turn of events is the latest chapter in the piracy saga off Somalia, where poverty, civil war and the lack of a functioning government since 1991 have turned the waters around the Horn of Africa nation into the most crime-infested on earth.
The attack against the Danish-owned vessel, called the Maersk Alabama, was the second attempt in two days, U.S. officials said. After rebuffing the first attempt, the ship's crew radioed that two skiffs were closing in. Thirty minutes later the ship told maritime officials that pirates had attached a grappling hook to the vessel and were seizing control.
It remained unclear how the U.S. crew retook control. One crew member told CNN that the crew briefly held one of the pirates, but then released him in an unsuccessful attempt to exchange the pirate for the captain.
U.S. officials said Navy P-3 surveillance planes were monitoring the vessel and the U.S. destroyer Bainbridge was en route, but it was unclear how long it would take to reach the ship.
Numerous merchant vessels have successfully fended off or outrun pirate attacks, but the actions of the U.S. crew marked a rare instance of seafarers overpowering pirates after a ship was seized, maritime officials said.
Pirates attacked the Danish-owned ship around 7:30 a.m. as it was traveling in the Indian Ocean about 240 nautical miles southeast of the Somali port city Eyl, according to U.S. naval officials.
The ship's owner, Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line Ltd., is a U.S. subsidiary of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk. The shipping giant is a longtime Pentagon contractor, according to security analyst firm Globalsecurity.org, operating vessels with "top security clearance." But the Maersk Alabama was not sailing under a Defense Department contract at the time of the attack, according to company and U.S. military officials.
Maersk Chief Executive John Reinhart said the company's seafarers were well-trained to deal with the risks of piracy.
"We have ways to push back, but we don't carry arms," he said.
He said the ship was carrying humanitarian food aid "to Africa for people in need."
A spokesman for World Food Program confirmed that part of the ship's cargo was being ferried on its behalf, including 4,000 metric tons of corn headed for Somalia and Uganda, and 1,000 metric tons of vegetable oil earmarked for refugees in Kenya. It was expected to dock in the Kenyan port of Mombasa on April 16.
"Every indication is that this is the first time a U.S.-flagged ship has been successfully seized by pirates in this region," according to Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman from the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
According to Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program in Nairobi, the last pirate attack of an American vessel by African pirates was reported in 1804, off Libya. "It's been a very long time," he said.
It remained unclear who seized the 17,000-ton vessel.
Over the past three years, Somali pirates have typically anchored hijacked vessels off the coast and negotiated ransoms between $1 million and $3 million. Last year, total ransom payments collected by Somali pirates are believed to have topped $50 million.
Among the recent high-profile attacks were ones on a Ukrainian vessel with 33 military tanks and a Saudi-owned tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude.
Most times, pirates do not appear to be targeting vessels based upon nationality or cargo, but they use navigational devices and electronic maritime databases to avoid capture, officials said.
U.S. warships, joined by several other foreign forces, have been patrolling the region since late last year, attempting to fill the security gap left by Somalia's weak transitional government.
At the time of the attack today, the closet U.S. warship was 300 miles away and unable to respond. "We are covering 1 million square miles," Christensen said. "It's a vast area, four times as big as Texas."
More than 33,000 ships pass along the East African trade route each year.
Last year, when the arms-laded Ukrainian ship was hijacked, U.S. warships and helicopters provided 24-hour surveillance to ensure none of the weapons were off-loaded to terrorists. After a reported $3-million ransom payment was made, the crew and cargo were released safely in February.
Pirate attacks off East Africa have surged again in the past week, moving from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean waters.
Over the past week, attacks have targeted a British-owned ship with Bulgarian crew, a French yacht and a German container vessel.
At least 16 ships and 200 crew members are currently being held off the Somalia coast, maritime officials said.
Joined: 16 Jun 2006 Posts: 3185 Location: Capacious Creek
Posted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:25 pm Post subject:
Somali piracy back in spotlight with US hostage
The FBI has joined the effort to try to secure Capt. Richard Phillips's release.
By Jonathan Adams | Correspondent 04.09.09
The first pirate attack on a US ship in some 200 years has put Somali pirates back on the front page.
World attention began focusing on the pirates last year after a sharp spike in attacks. Speedboat-borne bandits from the failed northeastern African state had become increasingly emboldened, and a kidnap-for-ransom trade thrived off the Somali coast.
The problem faded from the headlines earlier this year, after a US-led naval force stepped up antipiracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, and countries such as China joined the fight.
Now, the pirates are back in the spotlight. A group of them boarded the Maersk Alabama cargo ship Wednesday, taking 20 crewmembers hostage. But the crew seized back control of the ship from the pirates, after the captain surrendered and pirates fled with him in a lifeboat According to the latest reports, Capt. Richard Phillips and several pirates are now adrift in the powerless lifeboat, as a US destroyer and a spy plane loom nearby.
More US ships are on their way to the scene, as is the FBI, which has been called in to negotiate with the pirates.
The standoff shows that the world community has yet to take a serious approach to neutralizing the pirate threat, according to one expert. This, despite the pirates’ direct interference in a key global shipping lane, through which passes 12 percent of the world’s oil shipped by sea.
The attack is also likely to spur debate on whether the crews of merchant ships should be armed, and what kind of anti-piracy training they should receive.
A recent spike in pirate attacks reflects a change in tactics. Faced with stepped-up multinational patrols in the Gulf of Aden, the pirates began attacking farther out at sea, away from naval escorts.
Somalia has been without a stable government since the early 1990s. For years, Somalis have been the victims of this political breakdown. Now, the chaos has spilled into international waters, affecting global business, and ships and crews from countries the world over.
Somali militia leaders have teamed up with coastal fishermen to profit from the hijacking trade. Some security experts now wonder if Somali Islamists, or even foreign terrorists, are using pirates for their own fundraising efforts.
Beefed-up navy patrols may somewhat deter the pirates. But as Iqbal Jhazbhay, a Somali expert at the University of South Africa in Tshwane, argues, only a stable and effective Somali government can truly bring them to heel.
DEVELOPING: The head of the U.S. Central Command says the American military will increase its presence near the Horn of Africa within 48 hours.
Gen. David Petraeus spoke in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Thursday as a hostage standoff with pirates continues off Africa.
He did not give specifics, but said "we want to ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days."
Somali pirates tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday, but the crew thwarted the attempt. The armed pirates escaped on one of the ship's lifeboats, taking the Maersk captain hostage.
Joined: 11 Feb 2006 Posts: 2950 Location: 36ï¿½ 3'N x 86ï¿½40'W
Posted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:58 pm Post subject:
And just in time for the big MSM push to get public approval of Obama's request for $83 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. (Which, I already can see, is being soundly supported on both sides of the aisle. Bi-partisan support for spending an obscene amount of money to protect us from the Terra Boogieman. Real shocker.)
At what point does a small portion of the population start to realize that all of this is just an overt Mafia-style protection scam?
_________________ "No matter what happens, ever... there's ALWAYS at least one reason. And the top reason is ALWAYS money."
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Navy is moving a huge amphibious ship closer to the scene of the pirate hostage standoff off Somalia.
Defense officials say the USS Boxer will be nearby soon. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive ship movements.
The Boxer is the flag ship for a multination anti-piracy task force. The Boxer resembles a small aircraft carrier. It has a crew of more than 1,000, a mobile hospital, missile launchers and about two dozen helicopters and attack planes.
Two other Navy ships are expected to remain much closer to the pirate-held lifeboat. The USS Bainbridge is in sight of the lifeboat; the USS Halyburton is nearby. The Bainbridge uses drones to keep watch on the lifeboat. The Halyburton has helicopters.
French free sailboat from pirates, 1 hostage dies
PARIS (AP) — The French Navy stormed a French sailboat being held by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, killing one hostage and two pirates in the operation, a presidential statement said Friday.
The navy also freed four remaining hostages, including one child, who were seized Saturday when pirates boarded their ship, the Tanit. Three other pirates were taken prisoner.
It was not immediately clear where the rescue operation occurred. It did not appear to be in any proximity to the current standoff involving an American captain being held hostage.
It was the third time the French have freed hostages from the hands of pirates but the first time that a hostage had been killed. The French presidential statement said the boat was being steered toward the Somali coast.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said the death of one of five hostages came at the end of a two-day ordeal in the pirate-infested waters where the seizure of vessels by Somali pirates has become a common occurrence.
"During the operation, a hostage was unfortunately killed," the statement said adding that the four other hostages, including the child, were "safe and sound."
France's policy is to refuse to accept acts of piracy and avoid having French citizens taken ashore as hostages, the statement said.
The operation began Thursday when a Navy vessel contacted the pirates and "immobilized" the Tanit, it said.
"Negotiations were started to persuade the pirates to give up their criminal undertaking," said the statement.
"Today, threats were more precise, with the pirates refusing proposals and the Tanit moving toward the coast. An operation to free the hostages was decided."
Details of the operation were not disclosed.
The passengers in the Tanit, a tourist boat, had repeatedly been warned to avoid the dangerous waters around Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.
Somali Government Ready to Resolve Piracy Problems
By Peter Clottey VOANews - Washington, D.C - 10 April 2009
Somalia's new government says it would be able to deal decisively
with the piracy problems off its shores if the international community
would provide logistical support and supervision to its navy....
Abdulrahman Haji Ibbi is the Somali minister for Fisheries. He tells
reporter Peter Clottey that if such support had been forthcoming, the
pirates would not have posed the problems they now causing off the
"This problem of the piracy in Somali sea waters is a problem and a very
difficult thing for everybody. But for us it is not a difficult thing because we
as Somalis have to show our experience of how we can handle and tackle
these kinds of problems. But we are deeply sorry and it is regrettable all
these expenses that the international community is spending towards
addressing this piracy issue sending all their naval vessels to Somali sea
waters without doing anything at all," Haji Ibbi said.
He said several requests by the Somali government to help solve the
piracy problem have fallen on deaf ears.
"What they could have done, which we have told them many times is
that the Somali new government wants to solve once and for all the
problem of the piracy of the Somali seawaters. That the international
community could help us in a very simple manner giving us the kind of
support that our Somali coast guards will like to actually tackle all these
problems and we will do it. We use to do it and we have been doing it
during the Islamic Courts of Union we knew each other and the problem
is not the water. The problem is land so and we don't want the problems
happening now to continue," he said.
Haji Ibbi said the international community has been reluctant to help with
the new government's effort to resolve the piracy menace.
"We have presented requests to all of them, all of them. There is not a
single member of the international community that my president or prime
minister has not mentioned this problem to. They mention the problem of
piracy to all the people of foreign governments that they have met since
the new government was formed and none has actually given us the kind
of response that we have expected from them. We are not actually
complaining, but what we are saying is to help the community to help the
people and we are saying please help us because we can actually do
this job in a very secure manner. And they know very well that we can
do it," Haji Ibbi noted.
He said the lack of funds and logistics has made the Somali coast guard
ineffective in preventing the pirates from operating.
"What kind of coast guard are we going to use to fight these pirates
when we don't have money to pay them?We as a government don't
have that kind of money or economical support which we can use to give
to our soldiers to go and get these pirates and everybody knows that.
We are not actually getting revenue from anywhere except the ports but
we are still not getting the type of funds that we are looking for. Don't
forget the government is only one month and a couple of days and as
government we never inherited any economical infrastructure. For this
country there is no revenue there is no central bank and the money that
we are getting is that small thing from goods and services revenue from
the port. In a whole month we get only 45 to 50 thousand dollars," he said.
Haji Ibbi said the government could easily deal with the pirates once it
receives logistical and financial support.
"Definitely we can do that and I can guarantee that we can deal with it as
soon as possible. We know these people and we know how to tackle them
and how to solve the problem. We know where these pirates are coming
from, where they are going and we know their tactics. Everybody know
their own people and we keep asking the international community, the
United Nations and particularly the United States of America which we
believe have very good facilities for that and the European Union to
actually help us. I mean these are very simple things we can get to help
the world get rid of these pirates," Haji Ibbi noted.....
While the piracy problem off the Somali coast is getting a lot of media
attention, exactly how big a threat to maritime safety do the pirates pose?
John Patch is an associate professor for strategic intelligence at the US
Army War College and a retired Navy surface warfare officer and career
intelligence officer. He's written an article – appearing on the US Naval
Institute website – on Somali piracy. His comments are not to be taken as
official US government policy.(Damm Right! lol -Ed.)
In an interview with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua,
he says the Somali piracy problem may be overstated.
"Even with the incident of a US-flagged vessel taken, there's quite a lot of
hype involved. World opinion and sometimes US opinion as well is often
driven by passion, incidents of the moment and US pride. And we've got to
be careful about formulating policy on those kinds of things," he says.
Do statistics support an increase in Somali piracy activity? Commander
Patch says, "Are the numbers up, numbers down? That's kind of
debatable. The data behind the actual seizures is very varied. For
example, if they have an approach by a small boat in the middle of the
night, sometimes, with no actual piracy incident, that's still counted as an
incident…. I'm not so sure that piracy is actually escalating out of control
right now. My sense is, with the naval task force in the Gulf of Aden
escorting daily many, many ships with safe passages, you've got to
compare the number of piracy incidents to the actual safe passages and
you'll see that the instances are still very low."......
(Reuters) - U.S. Navy special forces shot dead three Somali pirates
on a lifeboat off Somalia and freed American cargo ship captain Richard
Phillips on Sunday in a dramatic end to a five-day standoff, officials said.
Here are answers to some key questions about the incident, mainly from
information provided to reporters by Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, head of
the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.
HOW DID THE NAVY END THE STANDOFF?
Navy SEALs, elite special operations troops, on the USS Bainbridge shot
dead the pirates in the lifeboat after the Bainbridge's captain determined
that Phillips' life was in imminent danger because a pirate pointed an AK-
47 rifle at him.
Navy sailors then sailed to the lifeboat in a small inflatable craft and
rescued Phillips, who was tied up inside the 18-foot-long lifeboat. He was
later transferred to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship.
A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said special
operations forces had tried to approach the lifeboat earlier in the standoff,
but the pirates had fired at them.
A fourth pirate who surrendered before the end of the standoff was
aboard the Bainbridge when Phillips was freed.
The pirate had sought medical treatment for a stab wound to the hand,
inflicted by a member of the Maersk Alabama's crew when the gang tried
to hijack the ship, the official said.
The pirate was being transferred to the Boxer.
HOW WERE SEA CONDITIONS AT THE TIME?
Conditions were deteriorating and the USS Bainbridge was towing the lifeboat in search of calmer waters at the time of the incident. The lifeboat was about 80 to 100 feet away from the Bainbridge when the Navy SEALs opened fire on the pirates.
The lifeboat was about 20 miles off the coast of Somalia when the standoff ended. U.S. military officials were determined to prevent the lifeboat from reaching the Somali shore.
WHAT IS PHILLIPS' CONDITION?
Phillips is in good health, Gortney said. The former hostage declined an offer of food after his rescue and has called home. President Barack Obama also called the Boxer to speak to him.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE FOURTH PIRATE?
The Navy says it is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to determine how to hold the pirate accountable for his crimes. He could be prosecuted in the United States or in Kenya, Gortney said.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE INCIDENT?
U.S. officials insist they did not want the stand-off to end violently.
Somali pirates have generally not harmed their hostages and officials fear
they could now act more violently.
"This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question
about it," Gortney told reporters at the Pentagon on a conference
call from his headquarters in Bahrain.
(Reporting by Andrew Gray, Editing by Stacey Joyce)
Some are clearly just gangsters.
But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling
Monday, 5 January 2009
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a
new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by
the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is
sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-
the-shoulder pantomime villains.
They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates
onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the
arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The
people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our
times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.
Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age
of piracy" – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless,
savage Bluebeard that lingers today was created by the British
government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed
it was false: pirates were often saved from the gallows by supportive
crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains Of All
Nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence.
If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks
of London's East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating
wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if
you slacked off, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O'
Nine Tails. If you slacked often, you could be thrown overboard. And at
the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied –
and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship,
the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions
collectively, without torture. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker
calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to
be found anywhere in the eighteenth century".
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals.
The pirates showed "quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not
have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service
and the Royal Navy." This is why they were romantic heroes, despite
being unproductive thieves.
The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called
William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was
hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep
me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live."
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people
have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in
the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the
country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious
European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast
barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first
they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after
the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed
up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more
than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody
is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals
such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced
back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to
the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah
what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh:
"Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas
of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish
stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More
than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every
year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed
Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu,
told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian
fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers,
or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer
Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent
Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported
the piracy as a form of national defence".
No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are
clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food
Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate
leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We
consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our
seas." William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches,
paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in
restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes
– the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the
fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of
the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another
pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and
brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant
by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded:
"What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a
petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet,
are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who
is the robber?
That's odd. I read AllAfrica regularly and have not seen anything on toxic dumping as the excuse behind Somali pirates. Nigeria did have a group threatening to shut down an Italian oil company for dumping waste in their community, and Uganda protested e-waste being dumped there. Kenya and Ghana have complained about illegal trawlers. Somalia worked out a deal with Yemeni who were often caught trawling in Somalian waters. Japan, Russia, China supposedly have been seen fishing just out of Somali territorial waters.
Hijacked ships are usually hundreds of miles out, not the 12 mile coastal territorial limit for Somalia, although initially hijackings were much closer to shore. I guess success breeds escalating and expanding business. Yachts and cruise ships are also targeted now.
Part of Maersk Alabama cargo was food aid for Kenya. How does that pertain to dumping/trawling?
Where has the $100 million (preferably in USD) from piracy fiscal year 2008 been spent? Given to Somali officials for the cause or given to the Somali people?
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. Once they had a ship,
the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively, without torture.
Lol. Never mind those pirates like Laffite and Hawkins who dealt in the slave trade, and those Barbary pirates dealing in slavery - on board theys was democratic rebels.
I can't make the connection between kidnapping/ransom and legitimate "protest". Reminds me of some brothers in the '60s who robbed armored trucks and claimed it was for the "cause." Some thought that was romantic and justified then too. _________________ 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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