Maritime Jihad

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarionproject.org, the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel. He can be contacted at ryanmauro1986@gmail.com.


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In February, four Americans were held for ransom by Somali pirates and executed. The pirates have the viciousness, skills and assets to bring havoc to the seas for a price, and Islamist terrorists are willing to pay. The U.S. commander for Africa predicts that Al-Qaeda will team up with the pirate gangs, as terrorist groups see maritime targets as a weak point for their enemies.

The U.S. commander overseeing Africa, General Carter Ham, confirms that the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabaab, is making money from piracy off the coast of East Africa. He predicts that Al-Qaeda will directly become involved with the Somali pirates if the problem is not tackled. Pirate activity sharply increased in 2008, coinciding with advances by al-Shabaab. The partnership between the pirates and terrorists is usually not one of ideological affinity, but of business and sometimes, coercion. For example, in February, al-Shabaab members forced a group of pirates to give them 20 percent of what they earn from ransoms. “They demanded we allow six of their fighters to board each of our hijacked ships. We have not left our houses…Worse, we are constantly receiving threatening text messages,” one pirate said.

In April 2008, a group of Somali pirates got paid a $1.2 million ransom to let a Spanish fishing vessel and 26 hostages go free. Al-Shabaab received five percent of the payment. Predictably, such payments to the pirates encouraged them to continue their profitable practices. There have been dozens of hijackings, hostage-takings and raids since, appeasing the pirates and indirectly financing terrorists. In April 2009, former ambassador to Ethiopia and expert on East Africa, David H. Shinn, said that al-Shabaab sometimes receives a protection fee from the pirates of 5 to 10 percent. If the group trains the pirates, it earns 20 percent. If the Al-Qaeda affiliate finances the entire operation, the commission is as high as 50 percent.

In July 2009, Somali officials said that al-Shabaab was hiring pirates to smuggle in members of Al-Qaeda to the country. It was said that up to 1,000 foreign jihadists had been brought in that year. In some cases, the jihadists view the pirates as soldiers defending Islam. In 2008, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said to the Somali pirates, “[T]ake caution and prepare yourselves…Increase your strikes against the Crusaders at sea and in Djibouti.” A spokesman for al-Shabaab praised them for “protecting the coast against the enemies of Allah.” Another group tied to Al-Qaeda, the Ras Kamboni Brigades, said they are “part of the Mujahideen” even if they are unsavory “money-seekers.”

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  • Larry

    Yardarms, rope, drum rolls, dead pirates.

    None of this pussy footing around using courts and laws that are intended to cover domestic crime.

    The same should be applied to terrorists caught in the field. Quick board convened to determine whether they are a legal or illegal combatant. If legal, PoW cage for the duration, if illegal, sweated for information and then put up against a wall and shot, just they way the relevant Law says it should be done.

  • John

    Pirates should be considered to be operating in a free fire zone. When they realize that if they are seen they will die the problem will soon disappear.

    • johnnywoods

      And since most of them are Muslim we should impregnate the bullets with pork so as to defile their souls. Use their ignorant superstitious religion against them.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    In bygone days, like when Ronald Reagan was president, the Somali pirates would have already long ago been obliterated. Oh how I long for those days, and no one would have ever questioned him, instead they would have praised his decisiveness and swift action.

  • jacob

    History tells us that in bygone eras, captured pirates were hung from a tall mast
    but in today's world, if captured as happened not long ago, they are turned over
    to the courts from where they came and needless to say, it is equivalent to a salute
    to the flag…

    I fear that, if any armed commercial or private vessel manages to sink them and
    lets them drown (which is what they truly deserve) they may get in real hot water
    with either good old USA, UN, EU, etc,.
    RIGHT ???

  • effemall

    Technology has turned the world into a global village without a mayor or city council. Too many of the world's leaders are Obama-like incompetents or Muslims and since the pirates are Muslims no country has done anything about them so far. In better times when America was led by men, there would have been a concerted attack by a group of maritime nations to wipe out the entire pirate culture along with insurgents etc. Leaders would be hanged, every piece of wood or fiberglass in their bailiwick that could pass for a boat would be ground into dust or sawdust and the world would get peace for another generation. If our children grow up with contempt for the adult world, once called the Free World, one cannot blame them because they are all sitting on their hands.

  • Jaladhi

    What is preventing civilized countries of the world to blow these jihadi pirates out of the water. This piracy problem can be solved in half a day if the pirate boats were sunk where ever in Indian ocean they are found.

    It is exasperating indeed that piracy is alive and well after it was totally annihilated more than 100 years back. Some times I wonder if the world leaders have any brain in them or not. Not!! Thomas Jefferson is needed to take care of the present day Muslim pirates!

  • Ron Carnine

    This was one of the very first foreign trials that the United States faced. Tired of paying protection money, finally force was used to stop Muslim pirates. If the free world does not get together soon we'll never, without direct intervention of God, be able to stop the unbelievably arrogant and aggressive Islamic world. Where are the moderate/liberal Muslims? What visible efforts have they put forth to stop this "hijacking" of their religion. I know that I probably will not live long enough to face this, but I sure don't want my grandchildren to have to clean up the mess our generation allowed to spin out of control.

  • Brujo Blanco

    One thing I really agree with is not to pay pirates one red cent for any hostage. We need to use merciless deadly force against them. If we pay they will ramp up their actions. Take the profit out of piracy and kill them.

  • SayWhat

    Firepower, or any means necessary to protect those areas. Feed the sharks, obliterate the pirates boats so nothing remains.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Why wait to be attacked at sea, their bases on land should be targeted,if it can be
    done to Gaddafi it can be done to any terrorist group in Somalia, the rats should
    not be able to get out to sea. Those four Americans murdered should have been
    enough for a campaign to wipe out all pirates, leftist interference in governance
    dictates that crisis must continue and upsetment remain the order of the day to
    make life unliveable for Americans and everyone else…………………William