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Somali gets life in prison for hijacking U.S. yacht that left four Americans dead! August 22, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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NORFOLK, Va. –  A Somali man was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for his role in the hijacking of yacht off the coast of Africa that left all four Americans on board dead, telling a federal judge that he never meant for anyone to get hurt.

“I’d like to express my regret and sorrow to the victims’ families,” Ali Abdi Mohamed said through an interpreter.

Mohamed is the first of 11 men who have pleaded guilty to piracy in the case to be sentenced. Each of the men face mandatory life sentences, although that could eventually be reduced as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. A second Somali was expected to be sentenced later in the day.

The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death in February several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman. They were the first Americans to be killed in a wave of piracy that has plagued the Indian Ocean in recent years.

The pirates said they intended to bring the Americans back to Somalia so that they could be ransomed, but that plan fell apart when four U.S. Navy warships began shadowing them. The Navy offered to let the pirates take the yacht in exchange for the hostages, but the pirates said they wouldn’t get the kind of money they wanted for it. Hostages are typically ransomed for millions of dollars.

Mohamed told prosecutors he was ordered to fire a rocket propelled grenade at the American warships to keep them away from the Quest. Court documents say that in doing so, he inadvertently killed one of the pirates who was standing too close behind him. Shortly after the RPG was fired, gun fire erupted aboard the yacht.

Somali Pirates attack another tanker in port of Salalah August 22, 2011

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A day after pirate hijacked a ship while it was anchored in the port of Salalah a group attacked another chemical tanker in the same location.  This ship was able to avoid capture however.  As stated by the IMB:

“Pirates in a skiff chased and fired upon a chemical tanker,”…”The pirates made several attempts to board the tanker and finally aborted the attack due to the evasive maneuvers made by the tanker.”

 

Somali Pirates hijack vessel while at anchor! August 21, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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In what is being described as the first attack of its kind and the most brazen attack yet, Somali pirates hijacked the chemical tanker MV Fairchem Bogey with a crew of 20 Indians and flagged in the Marshall Islands.

She was taken at anchor off Port Salalah, Oman.  Boarded at 0530 and forced to heave up and steam toward Somalia.  An Omani warship fired across the bow but the Master was forced to call the managers and tell them that the pirates were prepared to kill the crew, all lined up on the bridge, if the pursuit was not called off.  The warship shadowed the vessel until out of Omani territorial waters.

This brazen attack demonstrates the tactics used by pirates will evolve and become more sophisticated over time.  This year alone there have been many firsts; attacks in the Red Sea, vessels hijacked during Monsoon season, not releasing crews after ransoms were paid and now hijacking vessels while anchored at port.

Tanker Hijacked by Somali Pirates August 20, 2011

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The Mumbai operated tanker Fairchem Bogey was hijacked Saturday near the port of Salalah, Oman by Somali pirates. According to reports the tanker has 21 Indian crewmembers on board and is currently being followed by the naval forces of Oman.

“Swarming Attacks” suggest new pirate tactics August 19, 2011

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On August 7th, 2011 IMB reported an attack on a ship in the Red Sea in which it appeared that pirates were banding together and ‘swarming’ to attack vessels.  This wolfpack type attack was brushed off by some in the security industry.  On August 18th, 2011 the IMB live reporting system reported another such attack. In this attempted hijacking 7 high speed boats filled with 3-5 men, each armed with automatic swarmed a ship in an attempt to hijack the vessel.  As this attack was only 27km from the previous attack the implication is that pirate groups may be operating in distinct areas.

On a more fundamental level this new type should not come as a surprise.  Security and risk theory holds that as long as the the perceived payoff exceeds the perceived risk, criminals will continue to attempt to circumvent controls.  As controls change, criminal tactics will change in response.  Given that the average ransom paid exceeded $3 million in 2010 it is not expected that pirates will give up their attempts at hijackings for farming any time soon.  Shipping companies would be well advised to consider that pirate attacks will continue to increase in violence and tactics will continue to evolve in response to security controls being employed.

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