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Pirates attack with RPGs and rifle fire, get caught, released immediately

I’m no expert on international law, but it looks like these Somali pirates can attack at will and if the country of the attacked ship does not want to prosecute the criminal offense, they just let them go … most likely after a couple really good meals and medical attention.

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Ultimate community organizing – Somali pirates launch community stock exchange

This is totally great. Truly the ultimate adventure in community organizing. Since private individuals and companies have elected to pay off pirates who seize ships and kidnap people, the pirates have figured out a way to get the community involved in the action and allow investors to take a shot at a big pay day.

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London-based think tank – ships defending themselves not a good idea

Roger Middleton, a self-described piracy expert at the left of center Chatham House in London, thinks it’s bad business for American ships to arm themselves to repel pirates. Criminal pirates from Somalia have taken many hostages and in doing so, have found most countries and ship owners willing to pay millions in ransom. Not so much anymore.

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The joys and pain of piracy

Sailing the seas in search of plunder would appear to have some strange effects upon a man.  For example, in the space of a day, Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse has gone from laughter to tears, among other changes.

Of course, these are the only changes that the Somali sea-bandit has undergone. Another “sea-change” has been from pirate to… victim.

“He was caught red-handed on a Navy ship, but Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse may not have to walk the gangplank if his attorneys play it right, defense lawyers said.

“Call it the pirates-made-me-do-it defense.

“You’ve got an 18-year-old kid who has no education. He’s as poor as they come, and he got caught up with these pirates,” veteran defense lawyer Martin Geduldig said.

“In a sense, he’s as much a victim as anybody else,” said Geduldig, who is not involved in Muse’s defense.”

Maybe I’m suspicious and a trifle cynical, but I have a hard time calling the fellow brandishing the AK-47 and who robbed the vessel of $30,000 dollars a victim. The captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama, I suspect, would agree:

“He (Muse) was among the first to storm the U.S. ship on April 8, fired at Capt. Richard Phillips and stole $30,000 from a safe, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan.

He allegedly forced Maersk sailors to lower a ladder so more pirates could board – but then was tricked into putting down his weapon, tackled and tied up.

The rest of the pirates agreed to leave the Maersk only if the crew freed Muse and gave them a lifeboat – where they held Phillips hostage for four days.

“Muse told the captain that he had hijacked other ships before,” the complaint charged, adding that he distributed the $30,000 in plunder on the lifeboat”

Not exactly the best set of facts and circumstances upon which to base a “victims, aren’t we all” defense. To bad Muse and his defense team had already blown the “try him  as a juvenile” gambit, what with their client giving a range of ages from 16 to 26 since being taken prisoner.

While they’re at it, his defense team has been darkly hinting that Muse might be entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention, although that might be simply an effort to lay the foundation of an appeal on the basis of an incompetent or inadequate defense.

The prisoner of war status would only apply if Muse complied with the four requirements, which include A) being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates (maybe), B) having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance (no), C) carrying arms openly (no — they’re fishermen when Navy vessels are around and pirates when they’re not) and D) conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. (Given their piracy and ransom demands, this would seem to be a forgone conclusion…).

In other piratical news, our NATO allies are playing “catch and release” with some other Somali pirates:

“Dutch marines board a fishing boat and free two dozen Yemenis from Somali pirates. They seize and destroy AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher but then put the nine bandits back in their skiff and set them free.The Dutch marines were among a NATO flotilla that has helped fend off several pirate attacks in recent days in the crowded shipping lane off Somalia’s coast; in each case the culprits were released amid questions over jurisdiction to arrest them.

That drew criticism from the Obama administration, which killed three Somali pirates and arrested one in the dramatic April 12 rescue of an American cargo ship’s captain. The surviving pirate was arrested and sent to New York for trial.

Releasing pirates “sends the wrong signal,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting her Dutch counterpart Maxime Verhagen in Washington on Monday. Both ministers said they would push for NATO to begin arresting pirates.”

One wonders how long it will be before someone accuses the US of “over-reacting” or “gun-boat diplomacy” in this matter. I mean,we wouldn’t want to violate the pirates victim-hood, now would we?

Somali Pirates: They were just poor … and hungry

And they would have killed Maersk Alabama Bosun William Rios if given the chance. But I think he knew that. Listen to the interview, very interesting as Rios describes how he takes down one of the pirates and what the pirate tells him.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In_VuDuW_YY

Don’t forget our post – the Inside scoop on Maersk Alabama shoot?

Inside scoop on Maersk Alabama shoot?

I’m not a journalist, therefore I have the ability to speculate and post information from questionable sources. You can take it or leave it. With that said, I’ve been thinking about what happened on Easter Sunday in the Indian Ocean where three Navy personnel shot and killed three pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips hostage in that lifeboat.

My speculation, comments and questions. Click on the images to enlarge, all courtesy Blackfive.

  • lifeboat-2I find it hard to understand how all three of the kidnappers could be visible – above the shoulders, heads sticking out of the lifeboat – and it be clear to snipers that one of the kidnappers was about to shoot Phillips. These lifeboats are not designed to provide passengers a great view, nor would snipers be able to see in.
  • My guess is that the kidnappers do not have good muzzle control and frequently swept or pointed their rifles at Phillips – and most likely each other – on a regular basis. (Phillips was in imminent danger every sweep of the barrel.)
  • A re-creation of the “rescue” by CBS News showed three kidnappers were in view, one via the front hatch, one out the side and the other was visible – gun to the head of Phillips – through the rear hatch. The re-creation made it seem the lifeboat was being towed from the stern, which would be very strange if not completely stupid since the rudder would cause all sorts of havoc.
  • Again, courtesy Blackfive, we have what looks to be a bullet through the glass – but it is on the starboard side of the boat. This could be from a round shot at another time, or maybe not a round at all. Click on image for a bigger view.
  • There is no side hatch on the lifeboat for the Maersk Alabama – capacity 28 – only the rear hatch and the smaller front hatch. The pictures we have clearly show all sides of the lifeboat.
  • Could one kidnapper have his head stuck out of the front hatch, one be visible – standing up – at the windows, and the third in view from the rear hatch? That could mean all three shots were taken from three different locations – not just from the fantail.
  • If Phillips was sitting down in a seat, this would protect him from the shots as the kidnappers stood.

lifeboat-4 lifeboat-3

Since they were towing the lifeboat in an assumed normal matter – from the bow – how did the Navy personnel shoot all three kidnappers from the fantail of the Bainbridge? How could they tell that Phillips was in eminent danger? Only if the rear hatch was open and eyes were able to see inside would they know Phillips was in imminent danger. Heck, he was in danger the entire time.

No matter – I’m perfectly happy with the results, but who is twisting this story and will it become a big deal when the Somalia teen is brought to New York for piracy on the high seas?

Internet Speculation

Yes, this information came from the Internet, and you can consider it speculation if you’d like. I’ve cleaned up the text (language) from the original.

Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

  • [President Obama] wouldn’t authorize the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams) to the scene for 36 hours going against [on scene commander] OSC recommendation.
  • Once they arrived, [Obama] imposed restrictions on their [rules of engagement] ROE that they couldn’t do anything unless the hostage’s life [Phillips] was in “imminent” danger.
  • The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the [kidnappers] all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction.
  • When the navy [ridged inflatable boat] RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the [kidnappers] were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
  • [Obama] specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge captain and SEAL teams.
  • Bainbridge captain and SEAL team commander finally decide they have the Op Area and [Outer Continental Shelf?] OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. Four hours later, three dead [kidnappers].
  • [Obama] immediately claims credit for his “daring and decisive” behavior.

The e-mail goes on to reference an account written by Jeff Emanuel, that seems to be right on the money. Emanuel is a professional writer and editor with a military background. Do read his entire post, but here is a brief excerpt.

… Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation had been denied the day before, the Navy officer – unnamed
in all media reports to date – decided the AK 47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the NSWC team to take their shots.

Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe. …

Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort. What should have been a standoff lasting only hours – as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location – became an embarrassing four day and counting standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.

Capt. Phillips has just arrived at home in Vermont and there was a short meet-the-media event.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYDTmqQpD5w

usnavy-sniper

When pirates come, the Navy is hours away

The Liberty Sun – carrying food and relief supplies to Kenya- was attacked by pirates who shot rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and small arms fire at the ship while trying to board. The ship took evasive action and the crew hunkered down in the engine room.

After calling for help, the United States destroyer Bainbridge came to the aid of the Liberty Sun, but the Bainbridge took five hours to get to the scene. Five hours.

In no way am I knocking the response time, Somalia has quite a bit of coastline and it would be short of impossible to provide a “police force” to protect ship traffic. Even the United Nations approved the use of military force against the pirates in October 2008.

I’m calling for the the shipping carriers to protect themselves now. The short term solution seems to be to put a defensive force on the ships traveling in the area and fight fire with fire. I’m not an expert at all, but I think that this would be a smart move. Get the video tape rolling, record the attack as it begins, and quickly repel all boarders with extreme force.

That may be the only way to stop them.

Now, let’s take a look at two recent statements that may be the most ridiculous quotes about this subject. First we have Omar Dahir Idle who was interviewed by the Associated Press. My emphasis added.

One pirate declared Wednesday they are grabbing more ships and hostages to prove they are not intimidated by Obama’s pledge.

“Our latest hijackings are meant to show that no one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land,” Omar Dahir Idle told The Associated Press by telephone from the Somali port of Harardhere.

Then of course we have the good Reverend Al Sharpton who thinks the pirates probably should be called voluntary Somali Coast Guard members.

Hat tip to Brian Maloney at the Radio Equalizer…

You can call me [Sharpton] now at 1 877 532 5797, (to say) something about the so-called pirates. They call themselves voluntary Coast Guards in Somalia, which may be more apt. Ah, whatever your view.

Navy Seals Got Lucky?

Ummm … well, when your boss failed miserably in a similar situation, I guess when someone succeeds, well it must be luck. Unbelievable. Another “Great moments in liberal military analysis.” Read more

Media Intrusion? Comments Encouraged.

I post this only because this used to be my business, and I wonder what you think, what you would do? It is a TV staple. In any crisis, camp out on the family’s doorstep. Except in this case … the wife of Capt. Richard Phillips –  the man being held by Somali pirates – is telling the media … “Get Lost!”.

To Fox’s credit, Rick Leventhal says they will comply. But I wonder … should they? My civilian side says, of course. But the media is a different animal. You make the call.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmaFhk0ZgK0

I understand that the media wants the story and in this case, as Neil Cavuto points out, the Somali pirate story has international implications. But I am not sure that includes the wife of the ship’s captain. There is nothing she can tell you, except maybe get her husband in trouble. It’s a quandary.

Comments are welcome … from you civilians.