Navy SEALs rescue two hostages held by pirates
Jeet Das, News writer
February 27, 2012
Filed under News
In an unprecedented military act Jan. 24, the team of Navy SEALs who captured Osama Bin Ladin rescued two free-aid workers who were taken hostage over three months ago by Somali pirates.
American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued from a compound almost 150 miles inland. The SEALs are the first US military team on Somali soil since troops were recalled in 1993.
Pirates captured MV Fatina, a Ukrainian freight loaded with Soviet-made tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition in September according to a Time Magazine article Sept. 26, 2011. The group demanded $20 million for the ship’s return.
“We just saw a big ship, so we stopped it,” said Sugule Ali, the spokesman for a band of pirates, according to a USA Today article Oct. 1. “Think of us like a coast guard.”
Due to a lack of formal government in Somalia, piracy has become prominent in the region and waters surrounding it. According to the International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates have made 63 attacks and 26 hijackings off the coast of Somalia so far this year, seizing 534 crew members. Currently, 12 ships and 259 sailors remain captive.
To help reduce the growing number of pirates, the UN passed a resolution in June 2011 allowing naval allies to patrol the waters off the coast of Somalia, through which 90 percent of global trade flows. Despite this new resolution, ships are still warned to stay 250 nautical miles away from the coast.
“The UN is propping up the transitional government, which means they are doing nothing,” said junior David Abraham. “The UN has no obligation unless it is brought up as an international issue. Since Somalia has no real nation status, it is only a single nation issue. It only occurs when one nation is attacked by hostiles from Somalia, which is just National Security, not international. Think of terrorism, but between boats.”
The UN’s resolution coupled with the lack of Somali government has prompted some pirates to bring their hostages inland further complicating rescue efforts.
In 1969 the Siad Barre regime, lead by military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, took over a newly freed Somalia that was previous riddled with clan violence. The new government, influenced heavily by Chinese and scientific socialism, was eventually overthrown in the early 1990s. Since then, Somali warlords have taken control, handling matters of national politics for the war-stricken nation.
Somalia is left in a transitory state, plagued with constant warfare, famine, and crime. These factors have lead many countries including Sweden and Germany, as well as private aid organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization, to attempt to contribute foreign aid. However, “if you talk to Somalis, regardless of their political views, the overwhelming majority are suspicious of western aid agencies,” according to a Guardian article 2011.
Al-Qaeda has taken a leading role in distributing aid to Somali famine victims, according to the same article. Many speculate that distributing foreign aid acts as just another chance for the terrorist group to conduct business in Somalia, expanding their sphere of influence.
“A turbulent government situation is code for no law or order,” Abraham said. “It gives other countries a frightful feeling that hurts trade…. safety does not come easy, since other countries gave up on expecting secure waters, so other governments provide the protection of their own assets.” #