Pirate Update: Escalation

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.

Al Qaeda in Somalia Leader Dies in Air Strike

Aden Hashi Ayro, Al Qaeda’s named leader in Somalia, was Killed in an air strike. AP was called by an Al Qaeda source who gave them the information:

The American military launched an airstrike Thursday targeting the head of al-Qaida in Somalia, a U.S. defense official said. The head of an Islamic insurgent group said the attack killed its leader.
Islamist leader Aden Hashi Ayro, believed to be the head of al-Qaida in Somalia, was killed when the airstrike struck his house in the central Somali town of Dusamareeb, about 300 miles north of Mogadishu, said Sheik Muqtar Robow, a spokesman for the Islamic al-Shabab militia.

Another commander and seven others were also killed, Robow said. Six more people were wounded, two of whom later died, said resident Abdullahi Nor.

“Our brother martyr Aden Hashi, has received what he was looking for—death for the sake of Allah—at the hands of the United States,” Robow told The Associated Press by phone.

Aden Hashi Ayro killed four aid workers, was trained by AQ in Afghanistan in the 90’s, and this is a major blow against the Islamic Courts and Shabab terrorist organizations in Somalia. In other exploits he dug up an Italian colonial-era cemetary and erected a mosque in its place, and sheltered Al Qaeda transiting the region.
More at The Long War Journal
More here at Reuters.