US Navy leads international task force against Somali pirates

Somali pirates reportedly received a $3 million ransom for the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star and its crew, including two Brits—but in the words of one former captive “got their comeuppance.” Pirate captain Mohamed Said, speaking yesterday from Xarardheere, north of Mogadishu, said six of his crew were killed when their boat capsized while returning from the transfer site. Capt. Said said his men feared capture by the Combined Maritime Forces which are now patrolling Somalia’s coast. (The Independent, Jan. 11)

The Combined Maritime Forces, which includes naval ships and other assets from more than 20 nations, is spearheaded by the US Navy’s Combined Task Force 151. This is an outgrowth of Combined Task Force 150, which was created to conduct support operations at the start of “Operation Enduring Freedom”—the US campaign in Afghanistan. (CNN, Jan. 8)

The pirates, in turn, claim to be protecting Somalia’s coast from illegal toxic dumping by European firms, and say the $8 million ransom they are demanding for the return of a Ukranian ship will go towards cleaning up the waste. The ransom demand is a means of “reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years”, pirate spokesman Januna Ali Jama, based in the autonomous region of Puntland, told AlJazeera in October. “The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas.”

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia’s official government, confirmed to AlJazeera the world body has “reliable information” that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline. (AlJazeera, Oct. 11, 2008)

See our last post on Somalia.

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