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The Pirates of Somalia, Part II

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In November of last year, I wrote an article about the pirates of Somalia. Since then, things had not got noticeably better, until today, 12 April. Indeed, from the standpoint of the United States, things had got worse. On 8 April, one of the very few U.S. flag freighters still plying international waters, the Maersk Alabama, was attacked as it was carrying relief supplies to Africa. Although the unarmed officers and crew managed to overwhelm the pirates, the pirates were able to take Captain Richard Phillips hostage. Captain Phillips is understood to have been the first U.S. citizen taken by pirates since 1804. Then, the U.S. Navy responded by defeating the Barbary pirates off the northern coast of what is now Libya, and the U.S. Marines stormed the shores of Tripoli.

Between 8 April and 12 April, Captain Phillips had been floating around in the Indian Ocean in one of the Maersk Alabama's lifeboats with four pirates, drifting toward the coast of Somalia. The Maersk Alabama, with an 18-person armed security detail on board continued to her port of destination, Mombasa, where she arrived on 11 April. I have read nothing suggesting why an armed security detail was not on board the Maersk Alabama when she sailed toward an increasingly popular pirate playground. For the reasons stated previously, she should have been so protected, then.

Meanwhile, on 11 April, pirates captured an Italian owned and flagged 75-meter long tugboat with 16 crew in the Gulf of Aden. An Italian navy ship headed to the scene.

Soon after the unsuccessful hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, several U.S. warships arrived to assist her. At some point, Captain Phillips managed to jump into the water from the lifeboat where he was held captive and attempted to swim to safety on the Navy vessel. The pirates apparently fired at him and he was returned to custody. At some later point, a small boat from the Navy vessel approached the lifeboat for reasons which are unclear. It was fired upon and returned to the Navy vessel without returning fire. Then, on 12 April, close to the coast of Somalia,

Capt Phillips was freed in what appeared to be a swift firefight.

Reports say he jumped overboard for a second time, and the pirates were shot and killed before they could take action to get him back.

US forces apparently took advantage of the fact one of the pirates was negotiating on the USS Bainbridge when the incident happened.

The surviving pirate is now in US military custody, and could face trial in the United States. If convicted, he could be punished by life in prison. A Justice Department spokesman stated, "The Justice Department will be reviewing the evidence and other issues to determine whether to seek prosecution in the United States." It has been reported that President Obama gave the go ahead for the rescue and, apparently, for the use of firepower to accomplish it.

Until then, the powers that be were apparently trying, with excruciating patience, to figure out what to do. The pirates, meanwhile, put on a good front.

Somalia's Islamist insurgent movement al Shabaab, on Washington's list of terrorist organizations, lambasted the international naval patrols aimed at keeping ships safe.

"You are the ones who are the pirates. Leave our waters. You will be defeated," said a spokesman. The group denies it has links with the pirates, most of whom used to be poor fishermen.

It should be noted that the Maersk Alabama was attacked some 350 miles off shore in the Indian Ocean, in what are presumably international rather than Somalian waters.

Soon after the unsuccessful hijacking attempt, the FBI started a criminal investigation. It was reported that

The FBI investigation is being run out of New York because the office there oversees cases involving U.S. citizens in Africa. Other field offices take the lead depending on where in the world the crime occurs.

The FBI has a legal attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and has agents elsewhere in Africa to assist the investigation.

Whether charges ever get filed depends on how the standoff plays out. If the pirates are captured at sea, it will be much easier for U.S. authorities to prosecute.

About Dan Miller

  • STM

    Man walks out on the street in Belfast.

    As he turns a corner, a masked gunman shoves an Ak-47 into his forehead.

    The gunman asks: “Are ye a Catholic or a Protestant?”

    The guys thinks for a moment, and comes up with a great idea.

    He says: “Neither … I’m Jewish”.

    “Seriously?” says the gunman. “I must be the luckiest Palestinian in the whole of Northern Ireland”.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Opps, #97

  • STM

    An Irish teacher asks her Dublin class to use the word “contagious”.

    Roland, the teacher’s pet, gets up and says, “Last year I got the measles and me mum said it was contagious.”

    “Well done, Roland,” says the
    teacher. “Can anyone else try?”

    Katie, a sweet little girl with pigtails, says, “Me grandma says there’s
    a bug going round, and it’s contagious.”

    “Well done, Katie,” says the
    teacher.

    “Anyone else?”

    Little Sean jumps up and says in a broad Dublin accent, “Our next door neighbour is painting his house with a 2-inch brush, and me dad says it’ll take the contagious.”

  • Cindy

    Wow, I can’t believe I got that one.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Why is a contagious like a BigMac?

    They are both spelled differently.

    (I’m not going to sign my name to this sort of stuff.)

  • Cindy

    ???¿¿¿

    No comprendo.

    I can´t even find that joke on the internet. And for some reason, I have a feeling that no one is going to want to explain that one.

  • Cindy

    Help Silas!

    Do you get that joke?

  • STM

    An Englishman, an Irishman and an Australian walk into a bar.

    The barman says: “What’s this? Some kind of joke?”

  • STM

    Q: What’s a pirate’s favourite brand of suit?

    A: Aaaarrghmani!

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Cindy, sweetie. Are you talking about the contagious joke? The woman is painting her house with a two inch brush. And the Irishman in his thick brogue says, “it’s take the contagious”. So, if we take the word contagious and break it into two words, we have C_ _ _ and AGES. If you need further clarification, Eve Ensler does a great piece about that lovely word in the Vagina Monologues.

  • Cindy

    A Dyslexic man walks into a bra…

  • Cindy

    Silas I got that one. It’s Dan S.(Miller)’s I don’t get.

    They’re both spelled differently?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy,

    Well, they are, aren’t they? I mean, you know, you could probably try to spell them the same, but that wouldn’t work very well. If BigMac were spelled (and pronounced) contagious, you’d feel pretty silly ordering one at your friendly local McDonald’s. And, of course, if you were to ask your doctor whether your cold were BigMac, he’d likely send you for a fitting in a white coat with the arms secured in uncomfortable places.

    If you don’t understand now, I can’t provide much more assistance. Sorry.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy

    lol Dan S.(Miller), is that all there was to it?

    I guess I get it after all.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    #105 is probably the only joke on the thread that Roger got…

  • Clavos

    And now for something completely different…

    A bar customer asked the bartender if he wanted to hear a Swede joke.

    The bartender pointed to a large man at the end of the bar and said, “He’s Swedish.” Then the bartender pointed to a burly policeman near the door and repeated, “He’s Swedish.” The bartender finished, “Now think about whether you want to tell that joke, because I’m Swedish, too.”

    The customer replied, “I guess I won’t tell that joke after all. I’d have to explain it three times.”

  • Clavos

    There was a power failure in Stockholm.

    Hundreds of Swedes were trapped on escalators.

  • Clavos

    Q: What do you get if you cross a Swede and a Gypsy?

    A: A car thief who can’t drive.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not quite, Doc. Got a few more besides. #108 is the one I like.

  • STM

    Did you hear the one about the chinaman who broke into a house.

    When the homeowner got back five hours later, his computer was fixed but the thief was still trying to back out of the driveway.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The following transcript is from an audio tape recorded at President Obama’s most recent press conference:

    Q: Mr President, why did the chicken cross the road?

    A: Well, Jim, my views on this have not changed. But what I want to do is not focus on my views on the issue but focus on the views of the chicken. Did it wish to cross the road or did it feel compelled to because of the economic recession? As you know, many chickens are dissatisfied and cling to their nests and birdseed. We’re working on this in partnership with PETA, livestock farmers, Chick-Fil-A and the French government. I want to say that we are going to be a partner in confronting these issues across America. And with a view to that, we will soon be setting up focus groups and investing in a comprehensive action plan to help that chicken and his family move forward so that he can cross not just one road, but two, four or however many he wishes to. Now as Vice-President Biden said the other day…

    [At this point there is a noise on the tape similar to snoring and a comatose body sliding to the floor, and the recording ends]

  • STM

    Doc: [At this point there is a noise on the tape similar to snoring and a comatose body sliding to the floor, and the recording ends]

    Mate, if you think Obama’s boring, try five minutes of Kevin Rudd.

    Perfect antidote to insomia: they should market him as the organic alternative to Mogadon.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It’s not so much that I think he’s boring, Stan – you know what a charismatic speaker he can be. But he does have a tendency to waffle.

    He reminds me sometimes of my old boss (who was Australian, as it happens): never a word where a thousand will do.

  • Clavos

    An old writing prof’s favorite saying:

    “Never say ‘blah, blah, blah’ when just ‘blah’ will do…

  • STM

    Doc “An Australian … never a word where a thousand will do”.

    Yep, that’s us Doc … nothing like baffling everyone with bullsh.t, especially when you’re making it up as go along.

    Rudd’s pretty good at that. I’m glad little Johnny got the bum’s rush at the last election and I love having a Labor PM, but I just wish it’d been someone like Keating again.

    Keating’s performance in Parliament was like great theatre, only waaaaay better.

    He used to call the Opposition “scumbags”. Lol.

    He even suggested that being attacked in the House by one former Opposition Leader was like being flogged with a piece of warm lettuce.

    Howard was “a carcass swinging in the breeze, and no one had the guts to cut him down”. Great stuff.

    That’s what Americans need: genuine, rowdy, fingerpointing free-for-all theatrics in Congress.

    I guess not having the president sitting on the government benches – which is probably not what they’re called – when it’s sitting kind of takes away from the circus of it all a bit.

  • STM

    Irish 7-course meal:

    Six pack of Guinness and a potato.

  • STM

    Sorry Dan :)

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Did you hear about the redneck who thought Moby Dick was an STD as opposed to great literature?

    P.S. Cindy, I still don’t really get the contagious/BigMac joke. I mean, personally I’ve had things referred to as BigMac that actually weren’t related to the brand but that’s a discussion for another thread.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Silas,

    Just think of it as a joke about jokes.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Oh, now I get it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    The young Somalian gentleman detained by the U.S. Navy when he and his playmates attacked the U.S. merchant vessel Alabama will be tried by a Federal court in New York instead of being turned over to authorities in Kenya, “which has an international agreement to prosecute pirates.” Apparently, it is not yet known whether he will be dealt with as a juvenile or as an adult. The FBI is said to be investigating his age.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You should connect parts of your article to the recent one by Khan on the same subject. It deals precisely with matters of “ultimate” jurisdiction in term of the laws of Allah.

    I find it rather odd that there’s virtually no response from either side of the political spectrum.

    Out of political correctness?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Out of political correctness? I don’t know whether that’s the reason, but it does appear that political correctness is one of the dominant driving forces in U.S. society.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, that’s one of the most provocative articles I have yet come across in a long time. And informative, too, if true. Yet, there’s barely any response to speak of.