Posts Tagged pirates

Bounties: US Offers Millions In Bounties For Top Al Shabaab Leaders

This is good news, because it puts some attention on Al Shabaab leaders. And you never know, Somali’s might jump all over these bounties and start providing tons of tips about the whereabouts of these guys. Which is great. Although I still think we should be opening up the field when it comes to bounties and in lawless countries like Somalia, bounty hunters or companies should be allowed to do their thing.

If they are willing to take a risk operating there, then they should have every right to qualify for and receive a bounty for capturing these guys. Or at least finding them and turning over that information in return for a bounty. In other words, fire up an offense industry to get these guys.

And along those lines, these pirate groups we are currently going after on the high seas, might just look at these bounties as another way to make a buck. So will we pay pirates, if they submit a tip that leads to the capture of one of these guys? lol If so, that would be pretty funny. –Matt

Rewards for Justice website here.


US offers millions in bounty for top Somali militants
07 June 2012
The United States is offering rewards of up to US$7 million for information leading to the location of seven key leaders of Somalia’s al Shabaab, seeking for the first time to target top echelons of the al Qaeda-linked militant group.
U.S. officials said the rewards, to be announced on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” website today, opened a new front in the battle against al Shabaab and signaled Washington’s determination to press the fight against terrorism across Africa.
“This is the first time we’ve had key leaders of al Shabaab as part of the Rewards for Justice program,” said Robert Hartung, an assistant director at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which administers the program.
“Every time we add someone to the Rewards for Justice site, that is a signal that the U.S. government is sending that it takes the fight against terrorism very seriously,” Hartung said.

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Maritime Security: Caught On Film– Armed Private Security Repels Pirate Attack

I do not know who this company is and what their rules of engagement were, so if anyone has anything to add, feel free to do so in the comments. Warning shots were ordered first, but as the attackers kept coming, then the defenders had to open up and repel the attack. Also notice that ‘two’ skiffs attacked, and this seems to be the common tactic of pirates–or to work in pairs. Good on these security contractors and it looks like their defenses and planning worked. –Matt

Edit: 5/08/2012 It looks like the folks at Lloyd’s List were able to get some information about this video.  The ship was an Eagle Bulk Shipping vessel, and the security force was Trident Group. Here is a statement from the owner of Trident Group about this incident.

In an emailed statement to Lloyd’s List, Trident president Tom Rothrauff said: “This action came 72 hours following another attack by this exact same pirate action group against this very same vessel. Further, the same PAG had attacked a tanker in the week prior, so this was a killer PAG. Our team acted with poise, and used every rule for the use of force as prescribed by the US Coast Guard in PSA 3-09.

“The skiff was identified as carrying RPG’s and AK 47’s. The team was compelled to wait before they initiated warning shots until the master gave permission to the team to release repelling force. When the warning shots were fired, it just so happened that the skiff opened up on our team at the exact same time.”

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Al Qaeda: Closer Ties Between Somali And Yemeni Jihadists Threatens Oil Through Gulf Of Aden

Well this was a no brainer, but at least folks are talking about it now. So if Yemeni and Somali jihadists are working together, and Al Shabab is taking a 20 percent cut in piracy ransoms, then I wonder what the Yemeni cuts are? I mean that is a lot of shoreline now that a pirate could call home, if they were backed by the jihadists. If they did not have the support of the jihadists, then I would imagine they would come up against some problems.

The other way to look at this deal is the drug trade in Latin America. If you are a drug dealer in Central or South America, do you think you can set up your own shop and not get hassled by any of the large cartels? Of course not. If you did not cut them in, they would kill you. Or they would kill your family, and then tell you to sell more drugs for them! lol

So if Al Qaeda moves to control this corridor called the Gulf of Aden, then why wouldn’t they want to control these pirates? They could make money off of operations and they would disrupt western and middle eastern interest (oil flow, commerce). Jihadist privateering is a logical conclusion.

Now on to solutions, besides just putting armed guards on boats or squaring away those countries on land. I personally like the Q-ship idea. It is the ultimate zheng and qi strategy, and it would be one that pirates would have a very difficult time countering. The basic scheme is that you use a tanker or whatever boat as bait, and make it look like an unarmed vessel. You could even make it look like it is in distress. Then if it attracts a pirate crew and they go into attack mode and show their guns, an anti-piracy force outflanks that pirate crew and takes them down. You would have a force on the ship open up with the big guns, and a force on water that could attack. Whatever a team wants to use to get the job done. The cool thing is that there is no terrain for a pirate to hide behind, and you actually want the pirates to attack.

This idea though, would need a license by whatever country the vessel is flagged under, and there must be rules identified for killing and capturing pirates. There must be incentive as well, because if you want everyone to get involved with destroying piracy, you need to make it a venture or offense industry that ships would want to get involved with. Ideally, you would also want to capture the pirates and collect information from those detainees so networks can be studied and dismantled. So there must be a mechanism that supports the legal capture of pirates, if possible. Especially if an anti-piracy team wounds some pirates and those poor fools are in a sinking vessel. Do we let them die, or do we have a responsibility to capture them and care for them until those individuals are delivered to a detention center.

I believe all of these details could be hashed out in a Letter of Marque, much like they were in the past. As it stands now, we have armed security teams on boats that are great at repelling the assault, but they have no authorization from anyone to capture/detain or even care for wounded pirates?  What sense does it make to have shoot out’s with these guys, but have no means of legally detaining them and taking that pirate crew out of the system?

Now of course this tactic would have multiple legal issues to overcome before it would ever be considered. But honestly, something has to be done because the problem is only getting bigger and it is morphing into an animal that is certainly a threat to the global economies and innocent people. I also fear the day that pirates decide to capture a vessel and outright hand it over to Al Qaeda. Something like ramming a natural gas tanker into a heavily populated port or sinking the thing in gut of the Straits of Hormuz is a frightening thought. Believe me, if you can think it up, the other side has probably thought of it too.-Matt

Closer ties between Somali and Yemeni jihadists threatens oil through Aden Gulf
Monday, 18 July 2011
Affiliates of Al Qaeda operating on opposite shores of key oil-export routes through the Gulf of Aden have forged closer ties in what could emerge as a substantial threat by a group that has been dealt severe body blows by the Arab revolt sweeping the Middle East and North Africa and the killing in May of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seals. ?The closer ties between Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab in war-shattered Somalia is sparking concern among intelligence and counter-terrorism officials who suggest that AQAP may be the driving force behind closer cooperation between the two groups.

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Maritime Security: Indian Government Considering Allowing Armed Guards On Merchant Ships


India should also take some lessons from Israel. Israeli ships are usually not attacked as they are always prepared to face pirates.

“Israeli seafarers, at their young age, are taught how to fight with pirates with weapons and protect oneself,” added Mr Serang. – Sharad Matade, 03/15/2011

I put that quote up to highlight a pattern I have noticed in the security contracting world. When organizations or countries get desperate in terms of solutions for security matters, they always default to Israel as the source of an answer. lol It’s either that, or a really kick ass salesman from an Israeli maritime security firm got a hold of Mr. Serang and sold him on the ‘Israeli way’.

The article below is the one I wanted to focus on. India is experiencing a surge of pirate attacks and hostage taking, and in turn is also applying the pressure on these pirates. Recently India was able to capture 61 pirates, and fellow pirates have already expressed their ‘displeasure’ with this act.

These thugs said that India should ‘be ready for their citizens to be mistreated in the near future’. With words like that, I would certainly hope that India would consider allowing armed guards to be on merchant vessels. –Matt

Govt considering allowing armed guards on merchant ships

15 Mar, 2011

Faced with increasing incidents of pirate attacks, the government is considering allowing armed guards to be deployed on Indian merchant ships to enable them to retaliate in case of an attempt by sea brigands to take over the vessels.

Sources in the Indian Navy on Tuesday said the government is considering a shipping ministry proposal which talks about allowing armed guards to man merchant ships in order to protect them from pirates.

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Maritime Security: Four Americans Killed By Pirates On Hijacked Yacht

     After the grenade was fired at the Sterett, several pirates came on deck with their hands raised, as if trying to surrender, Fox said. The gunfire erupted on board almost immediately. But U.S. officers said it was not known whether the hostages had made an escape attempt or whether disagreements among the pirates prompted the firing.

“I can presume inside the vessel there was a lot of small-arms fire,” Fox said, but he noted that the Special Forces team did not have to fight its way onto the yacht.

     As the Special Forces team cleared the vessel, it discovered two pirates who already were dead. Another two were killed by U.S. personnel, one by gunfire and one by a knife, Fox said. 

     Not good, and rest in peace to these fallen hostages. It seems to me that these pirates are taking on a more violent approach. I will not speculate as to what happened out there that led to the pirates killing their hostages, and we will see from future reports as to the details. Until then, CENTCOM has made their statement on the matter.

      The other thing that grabbed my attention was the mention of a SEAL (I am assuming that US Personnel would be a SEAL) who killed a pirate with a knife?  Wow, that is some close quarters combat if you have to use a knife.  Although sometimes a knife would be the best tool for the job on a small vessel that has cramped and hidden quarters.  If someone pops out quickly, getting your gun on them might take too much time. Instead, there might have been a fight and once some minor distance was gained in the battle and the SEAL could have pulled out a pig sticker to take care of the problem. Who knows and I am sure more will follow in future reports on this? –Matt

DOD News Briefing with Vice Adm. Fox via Telephone from Bahrain on Somali Piracy Aboard the S/V Quest 

Official: Four Americans killed by pirates on hijacked yacht

Knife quote from the LA Times

U.S. forces respond to gunfire aboard the S/V Quest

U.S. forces respond to gunfire aboard the S/V Quest

CENTCOM Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2011) — At approximately 1 a.m. EST today, while negotiations were ongoing to secure the release of four American hostages, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the pirated vessel (S/V) Quest. As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

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Maritime Security: US Navy Using ‘Q-Ships’ And Somalis Guilty Of Piracy In Historic Trial

     Three men jumped from a command boat into an open skiff and raced toward the target. They opened fire with AK-47 rifles as they neared the starboard side, hitting a mast and several life lines.

     No one was hurt, and the April 1 incident normally might have drawn little notice. Somali sea bandits have attacked several hundred freighters, tankers and other merchant ships this year. They have successfully hijacked 40 vessels and their crews and held them for ransom.

     But the target this time was the U.S. guided missile frigate Nicholas, disguised to resemble a cargo ship. Navy gunners fired back, and by dawn, commandos had captured five Somalis.

     The last known U.S. trial of a pirate captured overseas was in 1819. During the Civil War, crew members from the Savannah, a Confederate raider, were charged with piracy and tried in New York. But the jury deadlocked, and the rebels later were deemed prisoners of war. 

    There is actually two historic events here.  The first would be the trial itself, but the second would be the first use of ‘Q-ships‘ by the US Navy since World War 2. This last part is incredibly under reported, and hopefully some clarification can be made by the US Navy about this if it is true.

    Or maybe there was a mistake by the reporter below, or this is what the defense claimed in the trial?  Who knows, but it certainly is interesting if true.  It almost makes me wonder if the USS Ashland was set up to be a decoy as well, because Somali pirates fired on that vessel thinking it was a merchant vessel. –Matt

US jury finds Somalis guilty of piracy

November 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — Five Somalis were found guilty of piracy for attacking a US vessel in the Indian Ocean, the first US convictions on such charges in nearly two centuries, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

A jury in the port city of Norfolk, Virginia found the men guilty of the April attack on the navy frigate USS Nicholas — which they mistook for a merchant vessel — from a small skiff in April.

The ruling marks “what is believed to be the first piracy trial conviction in the United States since 1820,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to trial testimony, the men sailed from Somalia searching for a merchant ship to raid. “They used a larger ship full of supplies, along with two smaller vessels loaded with assault weapons and a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) that served as attack boats,” the statement read.

On April 1, three of the suspects boarded one of the smaller vessels “and set out to pirate what they believed to be a merchant ship.”

The men opened fire on a ship which turned out to be the Norfolk-based USS Nicholas.

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