Monday, April 13, 2009

Pirates Vow Revenge Following US Rescue

The pirates are nothing if not inconsistent. The French launched a raid over the weekend to rescue five French hostages, and yet now the pirates are claiming that they're going to seek revenge for the death of three pirates and the capture of a fourth following Captain Richard Phillips escape, which allowed US Navy SEALs to take out those pirates.
The operation was a victory for the world's most powerful military but angry pirates vowed Monday to retaliate.

Those threats raised fears for the safety of some 230 foreign sailors still held hostage in more than a dozen ships anchored off the coast of lawless Somalia.

"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages)," Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, told the Associated Press from one of Somalia's piracy hubs, Eyl. "(U.S. forces have) become our No. 1 enemy."

News of Capt. Richard Phillips' rescue caused his crew in Kenya to break into wild cheers and brought tears to the eyes of those in Phillips' hometown of Underhill, Vermont, half a world away from the Indian Ocean drama.

President Barack Obama called Phillips' courage "a model for all Americans" and said he was pleased with the rescue, but added the United States still needed help from other countries to deal with piracy and to hold pirates accountable.
The pirates had a good business setup. They had the insurance companies for the shipping lines paying up on a fairly regular basis. Everyone made out like bandits. The pirates got regular pay and the shipping companies handled this as another cost of doing business in a lawless region off the coast of Somalia.

Of course, it was a different story for the crews of those ships captured by the pirates. More than 200 are still being held by the pirates in various communities up and down the Somali coast. Some have been held for months, and regardless of claims of how well they're being treated, these crews are being held against their will and haven't seen family or friends for months.

These high seas terrorists were not expecting to have various navies firing back at their thugs. They figured that they could get the usual ransoms and the companies or nations would eventually give in.

The pirates didn't expect the US crew of the Maersk Alabama to fight back. They didn't expect Captain Phillips to attempt escape from the drifting lifeboat twice; the second time being the charm on Easter Sunday as the US Navy was prepared the second time and facilitated his escape by shooting his captors as he swam to freedom while the lifeboat was under tow in increasingly choppy waters (video of Capt. Phillips here).

The pirates had been operating in a vacuum. The lawlessness of Somalia enabled them to operate with impunity. The various navies stood by and did little except ward off the pirates; they didn't go after the pirates homeports and the black market economy that supports the pirates in Somalia. Merchant shipping altered their shipping lanes, but did little to address the safety of their crews from these brigands. The pirates were exposed to no risk from their high seas terror campaign.

Now, they're going to be thinking twice about taking on shipping. They are starting to recognize that going after shipping has consequences. Permanent consequences.

Taking hostages can and may result in their death.

The French showed that the pirates cannot take hostages and expect to survive. The US did the same.

Now, the pirates are making threats that they wont treat the crews of ships they hijack the same as before.

The US Navy can't stop and smell the roses with securing Capt. Phillips release. They must do more. The other navies must do more. They must put down the pirates and their infrastructure. It means going and rescuing the other crews in Somalia.

To be absolutely clear here, these pirates started this conflict by attacking world shipping and taking hostages. Now, that the US and French navies responded by freeing several of those hostages, these thugs are vowing revenge? Sorry, but these terrorists are going to have to learn a harsh lesson of the consequences of their actions. They had a choice to not attack shipping and take hostages. They chose to attack make enemies of the various navies of the world.

The pirates are responsible for the consequences of their own actions; this isn't about revenge for the death of their fellow thugs. It's about excusing their own actions.

It looks like the US military is contemplating attacking the pirate bases on land in Somalia, although the operation being considered isn't a wide ranging operation.
The U.S. military is considering attacks on pirate bases on land and aid for the Somali people to help stem ship hijackings off Africa’s east coast, defense officials said.

The military also is drawing up proposals to aid the fledgling Somalia government to train security forces and develop its own coast guard, said the officials, who requested anonymity. The plans will be presented to the Obama administration as it considers a coordinated U.S. government and international response to piracy, the officials said.

The effort follows the freeing yesterday of Richard Phillips, a U.S. cargo ship captain held hostage since April 8 by Somali pirates. Security analysts said making shipping lanes safe would require disrupting the pirates’ support network on land.

“There really isn’t a silver-bullet solution other than going into Somalia and rooting out the bases” of the pirates, said James Carafano, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based group.
I think the attack on Rep. Payne's plane in Somalia may further hasten a US response to the piracy and lawlessness there.

Apparently the pirates want to seek revenge for the deaths of their fellow thugs against the French following the French raid to free French citizens from the pirates' clutches. Earlier reports indicated that the pirates were going to have their revenge against the US.

There's also a new timeline of what happened in the moments before the Navy SEALs rescued Capt. Phillips. Apparently one of the pirates aimed their AK-47 at Capt. Phillips and the sharpshooters responded by taking out the pirates in a blink of an eye.

Hmmmm... Obama's order merely reiterated a standing order to take out the pirates if they threatened Capt. Phillips? In other words, the guys on the ground were doing what they had to do, and Obama simply restated the same order?

Well, I'm not surprised by that, nor am I going to attack Obama for making the decision. He could have chosen to simply demand that the US negotiate the release.

Still, the real kudos must go to the SEAL team snipers who took out the pirates and rescued Capt. Phillips. They're the ones at the tip of the spear who never took their eye off the target.

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