Friday, November 21
Reference the October 24 and November 18 Pundita posts for background on my view of the situation. Here, John Batchelor weighs in on his blog about the Somali pirates and the al Qaeda angle. Clearly, he does not find enough to assume at this point that al Qaeda has gotten directly involved with the piracy. But he also finds cause for concern in that regard, and his view agrees with mine that the piracy reflects war at sea:
Blackhawk Down, the Remake
By John Batchelor on November 21, 2008
Somali Pirates Are Organized
Speaking Sunday 23 to Robert Wright, Financial Times, at London re the havoc in Suez Canal shipping caused by the pirates out of Somalia and other Indian Ocean ports.
Ninety-five ships have been attacked, thirty-nine taken, and fourteen are still held, the most famous right now being the Saudi owned Sirius Star ... a Suezmax tanker with $100 million of crude and a crew that assumes it will be ransomed.
None of this is cheap. The merchant fleets are plotting to bypass the Gulf of Aden, where the attacks are commonplace, and route the long route around the Cape of Good Hope. This adds 20 days from the Indian Ocean to Europe or North America and, if you are a Suezmax tanker, adds $1 million to the insurance costs and a lot of yelling in London and Brussels.
The question is why this is happening. The pirates are striking far at sea in small boats launched from mother ships. This is organized warfare. Who?
Al Qaeda Is Focused
Is it coincidence that Ayman al-Zawahiri's trash-talking video message, which was recorded sometime between November 5 and 11, mentioned the "lions of Islam in Somalia?"
"And I tell my brothers, the lions of Islam in Somalia: rejoice in victory and conquest. America is gathering its wounds in Iraq, and Ethiopia is looking for a way out, and for this reason, the stage of conspiracies and machinations has begun. So hold tightly to the truth for which you have given your lives, and don't put down your weapons before the Mujahid state of Islam and Tawheed has been set up in Somalia."
My best source on Ummah signals reminds me that Al Qaeda continues to plot to take over Somalia, and that it has struggled these years because of the chaos, anarchy, just general degradation of the population. Al Qaeda needs a government on hand in order to make a revolution and impose Shariah law.
Connect the dots? Not yet. The whole of the Horn of Africa has been collapsing for many years. Men ... driven from their tribes and herding by famine, drought, war in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the four horseman of the Apocalypse and a complete abandonment of the region by the EU and the Gulf States, all this has created a darkness visible that is growing.
Now with the recessions in the Western economies, the beggaring of the petro-dictatorships, the collapse of commodity prices in Africa and Asia, there is no hope to wait for. A Marxist would conclude that the pirates are revolting against the ruling classes. A Capitalist would conclude that the pirates are acting on favorable market conditions. But still, this is Somalia.
Blackhawk Down, the Original
My memory is that the connection between the "Blackhawk Down" incident of October 3-4 1993, also called the First Battle of Mogadishu, and the jihadists who became Al Qaeda was not firmly fixed. My best signal source for all sources was clear to me over many years that the attack on the American Task Force Ranger was a premeditated strike by Osama Bin Laden's agents. My best source often asserted that Al Qaeda was born at Khartoum in '93, and the first two efforts were the attack on the American embassy in Khartoum and the attack on the Mogadishu expedition.
The official American explanation in '93 and still today is that the attack was a spontaneous riot, that the hundreds of armed attackers just appeared spontaneously to go up against American automatic weapons and American and Pakistani counter-attacks, and that the fact that the Somali militia wielded RPGs was not significant.
Yes, Osama Bin Laden was deported from Khartoum in 1996, when he settled in Afghanistan. Yes, Al Qaeda has long recruited on the Indian Ocean coast of Africa. But sill, no confirm from the DoD or the historians of Mogadishu. ...
The Other Detail in Minnesota and Maine
Sunday 23 speaking also to Diana West, whose Townhall column puzzles about the strangely porous State Department program that has permitted thousands of Africans, especially Somalis, into the US as relatives of legal immigrants. The facts are that most of these relatives are likely frauds. In a test case of 3500, only twenty percent were legitimately relatives.
I wrote Diana that I have watched Lewiston, Maine for many years, where thousands of Somalis have settled through the State Department program, and in turn have brought in their relatives legally.
The Somalis are called economic refugees, a legacy of the original Somalia expedition launched by George H.W. Bush and Jim Baker in 1992. The Clinton administration inherited the Mogadishu catastrophe in 1993. Then two of the coldest states in the country inherited the refugee remnant who now, fifteen years later, have become active, voting American citizens ...
But what about these fraud reports? And what about the Somali pirates? And what about al-Zawahiri's "lions of Islam at Somalia?" Coincidences?