Islamist extremists (Al-Shabaab) prepared last night to unload rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns from the Ukrainian freighter, Faina, seized by Somali pirates even as foreign warships surrounded the vessel.
A US destroyer and submarine from an international task force set up to patrol the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and two European-flagged ships were reported to be tracking the freighter that had anchored off the southern Somali coast. The ship's captain contacted media outlets by satellite phone to say that one of his crew had died during the hostage drama.
The pirates were demanding a $20 million (£10.8 million) ransom for the release of the MV Faina, its 20 surviving crew and cargo of weapons, which include 33 Russian tanks. It was seized on Thursday as it neared the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
Somalia: Only guns can get aid past pirates
Plunder is used to fund terrorism
“The Islamists (Al-Shabaab) have sent pick-ups from Mogadishu to go and collect the gear,” said an analyst with a network of Somali informers. “There's not much they can do with the tanks — they can't get them off — but the rest of the weapons they are trying to move ashore.”
Somalia's insurgents,(Al-Shabbab), have made a series of impressive gains in recent weeks. They now control the port city of Kismayo and have armed and equipped pirate gangs as part of a campaign to control the seas (by Al-Shabaab).
Witnesses on the Somali coast said that the navy ships were using loudspeakers warning the pirates not to attempt to unload the cargo. A tribal chief and local fishermen about 250 miles north of Mogadishu said that they had seen the MV Faina near at least two ships.
“The pirates are now surrounded near the village of Hinbarwaqo by Western ships. They asked individuals in charge of the hijacking of the Ukrainian ship to come aboard the navy ship for talks,” said a local clan elder.
Bruno Schiemsky, a Somali analyst based in Kenya, said that Somalia's al-Shabaab militia — the youth wing of the Islamist movement — had joined forces with the pirates, offering weapons training in return for lessons in plundering at sea.
“This has now gone beyond money. The Shabaab are now at sea looking for Israelis, Americans and other Westerners,” he said. “This is getting very nasty now.”
The spike in attacks at sea has coincided with a rise in assaults on land by radical al-Shabaab insurgents, including the capture of Somalia's strategic southern port Kismayu. The United States say al-Shabaab is a terrorist group with close ties to al Qaeda. Experts say some of the businessmen and warlords who command the pirates are also funding the rebels.
"The entire Somali coastline is now under control of the Islamists," Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, told Reuters in an interview. "According to our information, the money they make from piracy and ransoms goes to support al-Shabaab activities onshore."
Al-Shabaab in Somalia is Al-Qaeda. The Al-Shabaab official website is hosted in the USA at the Dotster Web Hosting Co; DOTSTER INC 8100 NE Parkway Dr #300 Vancouver, WA 98662, E-Mail: abuse@mailto:dotster.com ..... Complaints email@example.com Phone 1-360-449-5985
See Prior Post with Death Threat for Private Investigator Bill Warner from Terrorist jamalsaid24 in Somalia, Sunday, September 28, 2008, DEATH THREAT POSTED ON THE YOUTUBE ACCOUNT OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR BILL WARNER BY SALMAN AL FARSI OF AL-MUHAJIROUN, WHAT TOOK SO LONG ?