Somalia: Even the Terrorists Stay Away


November 10, 2005: There are apparently three groups of pirates operating along the Somali coast. This has turned out to be a lucrative business, despite the number of failed attacks. The pirates have bought maritime radios, so they can listen in on the conversations between ships off the coast. The pirates have also used the radios to issue false calls for emergency assistance, to try and lure ships to within range of their speed boats. The pirates also use the radios to get a better idea of exactly where likely target ships are off the coast, or when they are going to be nearby. Currently, merchant ships are staying further out to sea (the minimum recommended distance from the coast is now 240 kilometers). It costs ships more money to detour that far out to sea, but given the growing reach, and audacity, of the pirates, this is a small price to pay. If a ships is seized by pirates, the ransom (several hundred thousand dollars, at least) and lost revenue (millions of dollars, depending on the size of the ship and the duration of its captivity), is far more expensive.

November 9, 2005: Fears that Somalia may become a terrorist haven have, so far, mainly been just fears. There is little infrastructure in the country, and the various warlords are not keen on tolerating a terrorist organization in their midst. This is partly because something like al Qaeda is seen as a rival, and partly because a terrorist organization might bring foreign intervention. The infrastructure problem is serious, because there's not much to attack within Somalia, and getting in and out of Somalia is a major chore. While you can rent aircraft, and there are several functioning air ports in the country, it's widely believed that the United States has informants and agents throughout the country. That means, any attempt for terrorists to operate would be detected, and probably pounced on by commandoes. Some believe that the Islamic conservative "Islamic Courts" warlords would accept the presence of al Qaeda, but these religious Somalis are more interested in restoring order to their neighborhoods, than in supporting world-wide jihad.

November 6, 2005: In Mogadishu, an attack on the motorcade of the interim prime minister left six bodyguards dead, and twenty other people injured. There are several warlord factions that disagree with the interim government, and are inclined to express their disagreements with deadly force. Off the coast, yet another cargo ship was attacked by pirates, who failed in their attempt to board.

November 5, 2005: Off the coast, two boat loads of pirates attempted to board a cruise ship. The cruise ship crew used a "sonic canon" and greater speed to avoid the attack. Later in the day, a cargo ship suffered a similar attack, but got away.




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