Thursday, October 2, 2008


Somalian pirates are renowned for their hi-jacking of cargo vessels, often holding the crews and cargo hostage for exorbitant fees. But a small group of pirates may have gotten slightly more than they were bargaining for:

The gun-toting, seafaring thieves, who routinely pounce on cargo ships bobbing along on the Indian Ocean, suddenly found themselves in command of a vessel crammed with $30 million worth of grenade launchers, piles of ammunition, even battle tanks.
And now the US and Russia are in hot pursuit.

Despite the pirate's claims to be "environmentalists" the US seems determined to get the tanks, rocket launchers and other small arms away from the pirates.

And rather than run from the US ships, the pirates are demanding $20 million dollars and holding their ground:

"We are negotiating with the company that owns the vessel. The discussions are headed towards a positive end, but nothing has been finalised," the pirates' spokesman Sugule Ali told AFP.

"We are demanding 20 million dollars and that figure still stands."

Yes, pirates these days have spokesmen. They probably have agents and lawyers as well, and no doubt some PR people (after all, pirates always get misunderstood, cast in such a negative light....)

In the end, however, this event has brought up a more important question, and a more important global crisis than all the pirating in the world--and that is the issue of global arms trading. This is a problem, especially in Africa and Asia, where rebel groups and governments are constantly embroiled in bitter warfare. This shipment was Ukrainian, which just adds to the mess of questions.

Ex-Soviet States with access to nuclear weaponry could manage to ship a nuclear bomb to a terrorist group. What if this ship had been such a ship, clandestinely shipping nuclear weapons, and it had been captured by pirates?

Piracy is certainly a problem in the Indian Ocean and off the coasts of Africa, but weapons and especially nuclear proliferation is one of the major problems of this century. There is no easy way to stop this black market, especially since much of it is not black at all, but openly done. Guns can be used to defend liberty, but we must also remember they are used for slaughter...