The 320,000 tone Saudi-owned super tanker has been hijacked, on Monday 11/17/2008, in waters off East Africa and is heading towards the coast of Somalia. The ‘Sirius Star’ was carrying two million barrels of oil – a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily exports. The hijacking took place around 800 km South-East of Mombasa, Kenya. The tanker had been heading for the United States via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, avoiding the Gulf of Aden, near Somalia, where piracy is rife. A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet said the Sirius Star, which only started operations in 03/2008, was the largest ship ever to have been hijacked. The hijackers already demanded a ransom of $100 millions for the crew, the ship and its cargo.
On Friday 09/26/2008 Somali pirates took over the Belize-flagged ‘Faina’ carrying 33 T-72 battle tanks from Ukraine to Kenya. The hijacking took place South of Aden straits along the Somali coast. Eventually the crew was freed, probably for ransom, but the tanks are still in the hands of the pirates and it is most likely that they will find their way to the battlefield of Somalia on the side of whoever will pay the highest price.
In response, realizing the potential danger to world economy but also the possible benefit that Islamic Militants, operating in Somalia against the pro-Western regime, can yield from maritime piracy in the region, an international fleet of NATO, USA and Russia began to patrol the Indian Ocean along the Somali coast, North of Kenya and South of Yemen.
The hijacking of the ‘Sirius Star’ occurred over 1000 km south to the area where the international fleet is patrolling, which indicates that the pirates did their home work and adapted themselves to the new situation very fast.
In lawless Somalia it is almost certain that although the pirates themselves are, probably, not jihadists or any other political ideology but common crime gang members, part of their gains will, eventually, support terror, since they cannot operate without the sponsorship of the local militias, who control the Somali coast, especially in the South in front of the large open Indian Ocean. All over the world there is a connection between organized international crime and drug gangs and the financing of terror.
It seems that the international community has no choice but to form a large international fleet, under one command, authorized by UN and the countries in the region, mainly Kenya, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia, to overcome the new piracy threat.
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