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Pirate Ransom Payments going to Somali Militant Groups July 6, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Laws and Leglslation, Piracy & Maritime Security, Risk & Risk Management, weapons and tactics.
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According to John Steed, the principal military adviser to the U.N. special envoy to Somalia and head of the envoy’s counter-piracy unit, said links between armed pirate gangs and Somalia’s al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were gradually firming.

“The payment of ransoms just like any other funding activity, illegal or otherwise, is technically in breach of the Somalia sanctions regime if it makes the security situation in Somalia worse,” said Steed.

“Especially if it is ending up in the hands of terrorists or militia leaders — and we believe it is, some directly, some more indirectly,” said Steed, a retired military officer.  For those who believe it is still all speculation, an Al Shabab representative confirmed the arrangement:

“If there was no relationship between us, there is no way the pirates would be able to operate, or carry their weapons within zones we control,” said an al Shabaab militant based in the pirate haven of Haradhere, north of Mogadishu.

Unfortunately, this means shipping companies may be in violation of international sanctions if they pay ransoms to the pirate groups.  Under the terms of the arms embargo on Somalia, financial support to armed groups in the Horn of Africa country is banned. Both the United States and Britain regard al Shabaab as a terrorist organisation.

The best course of action for shipping companies is to ensure that their ships are adequately protected from takeover.

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