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Pirates conjure up images of hook hands, peg legs and eye-patches. The modern species is much less comforting, flourishing in failed states and confronting the crews of huge tankers and bulk carriers with a new and dangerous occupational peril. I once had an incredulous response from a young American radio journalist after remarking that international terrorism should be combated with the same concerted rigour that was once brought to bear on pirates. Being of limited contemporary cultural range, he immediately thought of Johnny Depp hamming it up in the 18th-century Caribbean as reconceived by Hollywood. But in the words of Captain Pottengal Mukundan, the head of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), these are more like "maritime muggers" armed with AK-47s, than a cutlass-wielding Captain Blood.

Piracy is a very modern scourge that exists in dangerous proximity to Islamist terrorism, both as a source of revenue as well as the potential use of, for example, a liquefied gas tanker as a maritime super-bomb. Counter-terrorist agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore conduct drills to prevent such an eventuality. A recent incident off Somalia involved pirates threatening to explode a huge ship laden with benzene unless the Japanese owners paid a ransom. There is hard evidence that Somali pirates are closely co-operating with the Islamist al-Shabaab militia, although ironically one of the few accomplishments of the Islamic Courts government was to have suppressed piracy before it was itself deposed by Ethiopian troops.

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Michael Burleigh
November 25th, 2008
7:11 PM
Poor Kenya Jasmin. I tried to highlight the bombing of Nairobi in my Blood and Rage book. I hadn't known about the wildlife problem but it doesn't surprise me. Elephants I suppose. I guess I'd better think again about the fishing trip I dream of off Mombasa!

November 24th, 2008
5:11 PM
I think Tren is possibly assuming that Q ships were a German invention and not allied.

Jasmin Kaur
November 23rd, 2008
8:11 PM
The quote "maritime mugging" is exactly what is taking place. It seems that the Somalis excel at mugging on sea as well as in the cities of the countries they are flooding into in western nations as "refugees". Moreover, they are also responsible for dreadful crimes in Kenya and destruction of Kenyan wildlife too.

November 18th, 2008
7:11 PM

David Davis
November 16th, 2008
9:11 PM
I would also kill, immediatlely, all pirates actually catured in the act of piracy or with intent to pirate. This will "send a strong message" and also "send the correct message" to wannabe-pirates about what will await them eventually when they shall have been caught. The probability of certain death will thus vary by capturing-nation. Those capturing-nations whose ships are pirated and who do not exact total revenge at once and in totality, will be the ones which cannot ultimately get the cheapest insurance for heir marine commerce.

James Pawlak
November 4th, 2008
8:11 PM
I suggest to a policy of killing all pirates who resist arrest and hanging those found guilty after a on-the-deck and very summary court martial.

November 3rd, 2008
12:11 PM
Whilst Hollywood has struggled to show any pirates excepting the Caribbean variety, any student of history will be only too familiar with others around the world. Barbary pirates share the link to Islamic states, particularly with regard to semi-official tolerance by the authorities.

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