A quick update to my previous report on the Somali pirates, it appears that the escalation to sophisticated weapons that I mentioned as a probability is now underway, sponsored by Al Qaeda. This comes from the Mindanao Examiner, who mentions the source as Lloyd’s of London:
This special reinforcement seems to come more than timely. Disturbing news had been reported from London by Lloyds, the biggest insurance fund and premier underwriter of maritime transportation. According to its information from Lloyds of London, Al-Qa’idah terrorist has formed its own flotilla of 20 ships and stationed them in small harbours and island shelters in the area of the Horn of Africa and among the numerous islands of the Indonesian archipelago.
Rapid-fire automatic guns and man-portable air-defence missile systems have been installed on the vessels. In terms of combat employment they are subdivided into assault boats and kamikaze ships: fast patrol craft capable of carrying up to three tons of explosives. Many experts observe that Al-Qa’idah terrorists could perfectly well borrow the tactics of the modern-day freebooters from Somalia, disguising their ships as a pirate fleet.
There have been several conferences in Dubai, Asia, and India recently to establish better protocols and protections using everything from faster speeds to armed crews, this is being driven by insurance agencies like Lloyd’s who are tired of paying the ransoms and who have raised the rates accordingly.
Some are debating whether it’s piracy or terrorism – I’ll continue to label it terror simply because some of the ransom monies paid are going to terror outfits.