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The BBC News online reported this today: “A Somali man who pleaded guilty to piracy has been sentenced in the US to more than 33 years in prison. Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse is the only survivor of the crew of pirates who attacked the Maersk Alabama merchant ship off Somalia’s coast in April 2009. Donna Hopkins, coordinator for counter piracy and maritime security at the US state department, told the BBC the Somali piracy problem was escalating and would continue to do so for as long as the pirates were able to make large sums of money. “There aren’t enough ships on the planet to patrol the entire Indian Ocean,” she said, adding that she thought it would be more difficult to eradicate Somali piracy than to bring peace to Afghanistan.” (retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12486129)

I addressed this current issue in Pieces of You in chapter seven where my protagonist, Kirk, is directing an international shipping company that has had one of its crude-oil tankers attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean with Kirk’s son aboard. I see the Somali piracy issue as one of the many global problems we face that is easy to judge but difficult to eradicate because its root causes are diverse. Some Somalis take up piracy because they find no other way to make money to feed their families, while others are in it for what might seem to be the notoriety and easy money.The BBC article to some degree refutes that assumption, since the convicted pirate is the only survivor of his crew; he must serve 33 years in prison; and according to research, he would have gotten only a small percentage of the actual take. Why would an indigent person with a family take such a titanic risk, doing something that is so blatantly legally and morally wrong?

In the chapter I consider causes and solutions (at least those that might keep Kirk’s company from becoming a target again). If you have an opinion on causes and/or solutions to this issue, please comment!

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Comments on: "Somali Pirates in the News and in my Book" (2)

  1. I agree that paying the ever-increasing ransoms demanded by Somali pirates is not the answer to the problem of piracy. But I question the premise that killing pirates is sending the right message.[Might that not be the example pirates could use to do likewise?] I oppose the death penalty, especially since I heard Sr. Helen Prejean tell of a discussion with the father of the girl murdered by Matthew Poncelet. He said that he could not submit to his friends’ demands that he support the death penalty because it would change who he was, and he had always been a caring person.

    I don’t know the way to eliminate piracy but I did some research while writing my book. Here is one of the articles that made me think about root causes: http://horseedmedia.net/2010/01/07/somalia-and-the-cost-of-state-failure/

    Must we as caring human beings not ask ourselves if we are part of the cause before we can ask what part we will play in the solution?

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  2. Piracy was dealt with in the past through drum head justice. In the modern era only Singapore leaves drug dealers that have been hung on the gallows at the end of the airport runway as advertisement and warning to those who would try their luck running drugs.

    The Russians, South Koreans and in one case the U.S. Navy SEALS have conducted anti-piracy operations in an appropriate manner.

    Sending the Pirates millions of dollars to a numbered bank account or in cash is a failure to communicate.

    The international law of the sea is predicated upon everyone following the rules of the road, the emergency and safety agreements and common law. Steal a ship or the cargo of a ship or harm passengers and or crew, you are a pirate.

    The U.S. Navy and Marines have demonstrated they can deal with these problems. “The shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps Hymn is not about a visit to the local Club Med.

    Since the Somali pirates are also quasi-terrorists it is important to note that capturing and jailing them creates a motivation for the remaining pirates to take hostages to trade for their release. Hence, it is best to always finish the job and deliver dead pirates back to their mates.

    The assassination attempt on the Emir of Kuwait shortly before the invasion by Iraq was due to Iranian terrorists that were held in the Kuwait jail. Had they been executed the motivation for the car bomb would have been reduced.

    I did not visit the horn of Africa. Mr. Rumsfeld did spend billions of our tax dollars building up his Navy base at Djibouti that he leased from the French (who stole it from the natives).

    It does appear that a more militant approach to piracy would return the sea lanes to normal.

    As for the pleasure boaters killed this week, they were foolish, but were entitled to free and safe passage on the seas.

    I spent a decade in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

    While none of the visas in my passport lasted longer than the governments that issued them, that cannot be said for some of my friends.

    Bob

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