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Friday, September 26

Understatement of the century: "These pirates are getting bolder every day."

We're talking about literal pirates, not the investment-community kind. The latest is that pirates hijacked a boatload of grenade launchers, ammunition and battle tanks --all told worth $30 million. It doesn't seem they knew when they struck what the vessel contained. Each tank weighs 80,000 pounds, and it would require special training as well as special equipment to offload them.

The pirates know now what they made off with. That particular act of piracy has warships from the U.S. and Russian navies in hot pursuit. Yet this won't dampen the piracy business:
(International Herald Tribune, September 26) [...] Thieves seem to strike with increasing impunity, grabbing everything from sailing yachts to oil tankers. They then usually demand millions of dollars in ransom for the ships and their crews.

And people usually pay -- which Somali and Western officials say is fueling the problem. This year is one of the worst on record, with more than 50 ships attacked, 25 hijacked and at least 14 currently being held by pirates. The waters off Somalia are now considered the most dangerous in the world. [...]

"These pirates are getting bolder ever day," said Andrew Mwangura, the program coordinator of the Seafarers' Assistance Program in Kenya, whose organization tracks pirate attacks.

Somali officials say the pirates are growing in numbers, with more than 1,000 gunmen at their disposal, and they have evolved into a sophisticated organized crime ring with their headquarters along the rocky shores of northern Somalia. There is even a pirate spokesman (who could not be reached for comment on Friday.)
I know it's not funny. I know it's a sign of Fifth Generation Warfare. And, as the IHT reporter observes, when the U.S. and Russian warships catch up with the pirates:
It could lead to a showdown with the pirates, and with that many hostages aboard a floating ammunition dump, things could get complicated.
Yes. Complicated. But there is something about a few ex-fisherman with nothing more than light arms making off with a bunch of tanks that is -- how to put this while I struggle to maintain decorum -- that is somehow a perfect metaphor for our times.

As to what Ukraine's government is doing shipping tanks and a small mountain of ammo to Kenya -- the IHT report doesn't say but the report, which was filed by Jeffrey Gettleman, has juicy details about the theft.

Odd to think that the silly Pirates of the Caribbean, a movie produced by the Disney studio, was downright prophetic.

But maybe Pirates has the answer for avoiding complications when the warships catch up with the Somali pirates: Parley!
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