Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Surprise, Surprise: The Somali Pirates Are Jihadists
From Jihad Watch. org
April 15, 2009
Spencer: The Somali Pirates Are Jihadists
In Human Events this morning I discuss an almost completely ignored element of the Somali pirates' identity: they're jihadists.
This week, we celebrate the Navy SEALs’ rescue of American ship captain Richard Phillips. Their action, from the night airdrop that delivered them to the waiting warships to the split-second action in which three of the pirates were killed, was what we expect from our best special operations troops.
But while we praise their skill, let’s not lose sight of who Phillips’ captors were. His Somali pirate captors are Islamic jihadists, dedicated to the same goals as Osama bin Laden and other jihadists around the world.
In August 2008, when the pirates became especially active off the Horn of Africa, Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, declared that Al-Shabaab, a group of jihadists in Somalia, use piracy to fund their jihad: “According to our information, the money they make from piracy and ransoms goes to support al-Shabaab activities onshore.”
With ransoms for ships each bringing in at least $10,000 and some in multiple millions of dollars, and the pirates seizing ships at a furious rate (taking four in one forty-eight hour period last summer), piracy is a lucrative source of funding for the jihad. Journalist Stephen Brown noted in November 2008 that “security experts fear the ransom money the pirates are receiving will allow them to buy better equipment and weapons for larger operations.” And with astounding short-sightedness, European governments -- with the notable exception of the French last week -- have been paying these ransoms. In that light, the American refusal to do so, and the rescue of Phillips, is a welcome step in the right direction.
But now it must be followed up properly, for al-Shabaab has numerous links to jihadist activity elsewhere. Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (“Jihadist Youth”) is linked to al-Qaeda and advocates the strict application of Islamic law. It came to the fore in that troubled nation after the 2006 toppling by Ethiopian troops of the Islamic Courts Union government that ruled briefly in Mogadishu. And Mwangura notes that currently “the entire Somali coastline is now under control of the Islamists.” Al-Shabaab now controls more of Somalia than the Islamic Courts Union did even at the height of its power, and its reach extends beyond Somalia. Some of the Somali immigrants who have mysteriously disappeared from the Minneapolis area have been recruited for jihad by al-Shabaab, which has also attracted jihad fighters from around the world to join its efforts to take control in Somalia.
Not only are the Somali pirates Islamic jihadists, but their religious identity is much more important to them than being considered the sons and heirs of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. On Sunday, Reuters quoted one of the pirates saying, “We never kill people. We are Muslims. We are marines, coastguards -- not pirates.” Hostages have reported, however, that despite this pious disavowal, the pirates have threatened to kill them on more than one occasion. And the Navy SEALs only opened fire when it appeared they were about to kill Capt. Phillips.
Read the rest here
A note from Radarsite: What now, OB? What now?