PIRATES..

SO HOW MANY MORE SHIPS WILL BE TAKEN, HOW MANY MORE HOSTAGES KIDNAPPED AND USED FOR RANSOM? BEFORE WE FINALLY DEAL WITH WHAT THE PROBLEM IS? WE KNOW WHO IS COMMITTING THESE CRIMES ON THE SEA, WE KNOW ABOUT THEIR LINKS TO ALMOST EVERY KNOWN ISLAMIC TERROR GROUP, AND YET WE STILL REFUSE TO CALL IT WHAT IT IS…ISLAMIC PLUNDERING…BUT I AGREE WITH ONE PART OF THIS ARTICLE, WE MUST START USING FORCE IF WE ARE TO DETER THEM.

Matt Gurney: Bin Laden’s killers send a message to Somali pirates

Jan 25, 2012 – 11:04 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 25, 2012 11:38 AM ET

Three months ago, two aid workers helping to clear landmines out of Somalia were captured by local pirates. Jessica Buchanan, a 32-year-old American, and Danish citizen Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, had been held for ransom ever since. Efforts by the Danish government to secure their release were unsuccessful. At some point over the last few months — when exactly is unclear — the United States developed intelligence on their location, and also discovered that Buchanan, the American, was ill with an undisclosed illness. With her condition deteriorating, U.S. President Barack Obama decided to attempt a military rescue. SEAL Team 6, the same unit that invaded Pakistan and took out bin Laden, was chosen for the job. On Tuesday night, they got it done.

The hostages were both rescued safely, and the 12 pirates guarding them were all dealt with swiftly: Nine were killed when the SEALs moved in, with three captured and taken prisoner. No U.S. troops were killed, and the hostages have been evacuated to a nearby U.S. base. This is exactly what needs to happen every time a Western citizen is abducted and held for ransom. Kidnappings for money can’t be eliminated, but the kidnappers can be. If anything will help reduce these terrible crimes, that’s what it will take.

For years, Somali pirates have roamed the seas off the Horn of Africa, seizing ships for their crews and cargo, and waiting for insurance companies or corporations to pay out huge sums of money to have their men and material released. Gradually, however, shipping companies adapted to the risk, and began putting heavily armed private security teams on their ships, sailing them around the area, or sticking close to warships operating in the threatened waters. Military forces in the area have also been much more assertive in dealing with the pirates found at sea.

That has led some of these pirate groups — criminal organizations by any other name — to begin seeking Westerners wherever they can find them. This has meant several risky abductions from the shore. In September, for example, a British couple at a beach resort in Kenya were attacked by al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali militants. The husband was shot dead, and the wife taken prisoner. She remains a captive. And according to the Associated Press, there are at least three other known Western hostages being held in Somalia currently: Two Spanish doctors, also abducted from Kenya, and an American journalist, seized while working in Somalia.

The explanation given for such crimes is always the same — even when Islamist terror cells are involved, it’s about the money. The hefty ransoms that can be paid can either pay off a crew of hired guns (while enriching the mastermind) or support anti-government operations by terror groups. And the West generally has paid up, or has at least had someone pay up on our behalf. This just feeds the cycle. The more money is handed over for hostages, the more hostages are likely to be taken. The Somali gangs are clearly intent on continuing this — when attacking ships at sea became too hard, they switched to seeking targets on land. Like any good capitalists, they adapted to changing market conditions in a way that helps them keep their business alive.

That’s why the choice to send in the SEALs was the right one. The message must be sent that going after Westerners meanings having Westerners come after you. Both France and the United States have large military bases in the region, and they should be used — not only as hostage-rescue launch points, but also as staging areas of air strikes against the criminal bosses who profit off these crimes (Helpful tip: Drop smart bombs on the guys with the nice cars in heavily guarded compounds).

Military power by itself will never be enough to put an end to kidnapping rings, but it can at least change the calculus for those who seek to profit by abducting Western citizens. Kill enough pirates, and even the prospect of a handsome payout may be insufficient incentive to convince anyone else to sign up for the job.

National Post mgurney@nationalpost.com

 

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