The BBC has an incredible story of bravery and resourcefulness: a captain of a merchant ship and his crew successfully fought off a pirate attack.
I was interested to discover that British law prevents merchant ships from carrying weapons, so they were effectively defenceless… or would have been had the captain not used Macaulay Culkin tactics from Home Alone to foil the pirates’ efforts to board.
There are fears now that Islamists are forging alliances with pirates in Somalia and using he profits to fund terrorism. Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aware, a Somali high court judge – known for jailing both Islamist insurgents and pirates – was assasinated yesterday outside a mosque. In a separate incident, another lawmaker was murdered.
The number of ships seized and hostages taken by pirates is increasing at an alarming rate. The Somalis state – on the brink of failure (if not already past it) – certainly has no means of controlling the pirate gangs.
The only solution is to make the risks to pirates outweigh the rewards by a considerable distance. Pirate ports need to be blockaded and the blockade must be ruthlessly enforced. This means that navy ships and aircraft quite literally need to start blowing pirate vessels out of the water. We need to start killing pirates in large numbers, or the problem will simply grow and grow until it is unmanageable. If the righteous are squeamish about using force, then thugs will.
We cannot have a repeat of this farce: A French naval ship, La Somme, was attacked by pirates who mistook it for a cargo vessel. According to the French military, this is what happened:
“The pirates were shooting, but to my knowledge there was no firing back from the crew of La Somme. But the strong intention to chase them away was enough to stop them after about an hour.”
This is madness. Why is a navy vessel “chasing away” pirates instead of killing them? What misplaced ‘humanity’ is this? All that will happen is that these “repelled” pirates will attack again tomorrow. This time it will be a defenceless ship. Its crew may be murdered or held for ransom.
If the pirates are not destroyed, it is not unimaginable that they will sponsor an Islamist takeover of Somalia, which will become a base for international terrorism, funded by still more piracy. It will take an Afghanistan-scale invasion to deal with the problem if we don’t deal with it while we can.
That will be far messier, and will result in massive civilian casualties and the destruction of what little infrastructure the country still has. Even more nightmarish, the Somali youth in Western cities may be recruited to ‘jihad’, as these six from Minnesota’s Somali community were. After being recruited by – oh, this is a familiar name – Anwar Awlaki – they returned home to the US in body bags.
Once again, pirates need to be treated as they once were: hostis humani generis – enemies of humanity. They need to be opposed with maximum force, and those who are captured must be tried in an international court.
We have to take decisive action now. There is no time for faint-heartedness.