Friday, September 28, 2012

Sea Piracy News - Somalia

September 25, 2012
Associated Press

Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorized shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea.
The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.
It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations -- and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments.
One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.
"Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said.
"The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials ... we've made piracy a community activity."
Haradheere, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Mogadishu, used to be a small fishing village. Now it is a bustling town where luxury 4x4 cars owned by the pirates and those who bankroll them create honking traffic jams along its pot-holed, dusty streets.
Somalia's Western-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is pinned down battling hard-line Islamist rebels, and controls little more than a few streets of the capital.
The administration has no influence in Haradheere -- where a senior local official said piracy paid for almost everything.
"Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output," said Mohamed Adam, the town's deputy security officer.
"The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes on public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools."
In a drought-ravaged country that provides almost no employment opportunities for fit young men, many are been drawn to the allure of the riches they see being earned at sea.
Abdirahman Ali was a secondary school student in Mogadishu until three months ago when his family fled the fighting there.
Given the choice of moving with his parents to Lego, their ancestral home in Middle Shabelle where strict Islamist rebels have banned most entertainment including watching sport, or joining the pirates, he opted to head for Haradheere.
Now he guards a Thai fishing boat held just offshore.
"First I decided to leave the country and migrate, but then I remembered my late colleagues who died at sea while trying to migrate to Italy," he told Reuters. "So I chose this option, instead of dying in the desert or from mortars in Mogadishu."
Haradheere's "stock exchange" is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action.
Every week, Mohammed said, gang members and equipment were lost to the sea. But he said the pirates were not deterred.
"Ransoms have even increased in recent months from between $2-3 million to $4 million because of the increased number of shareholders and the risks," he said.
"Let the anti-piracy navies continue their search for us. We have no worries because our motto for the job is 'do or die'."
Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.
"I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation," she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.
"I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company'."


War On Somali Pirate Takes New Heights
Posted on July 16, 2012 
The war on Somali pirates has been taken into a new height when on May 15, EU naval forces conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somali mainland. While the naval ships attached to EU mandated Operation Atalanta fires their naval gun, the EU forces were transported by helicopter to the bases near the port of Haradhere, a major pirate stronghold. (here). At least one gunship was also involved during the operation.
In all, several speedboats were destroyed as well as fuel and ammunition stores, alliance officials said. No lives were lost in the attack and no Somalis were injured, the EU said.
The EU military actions against the pirate mainland bases is unprecedented as most of other countries involved in anti-piracy operation in the area were reluctant to conduct similar action fearing for the safety of the captured hostages.
The MAF currently deploys 2 RMN auxilliary ships, the Bunga Mas 5 (BM 5) and Bunga Mas 6 (BM 6) to the Somali coast as part of Ops Fajar, a Malaysian Government mandated anti piracy operation which aims to protect Malaysian maritime trade interest. A small air element consist of a single AS-555SN Fennec helicopter operated by CUT’s No 502 Skn is also deployed on board the BM 5.
BM 5 also brought a team of National Special Operation Forces (NSOF) operators which were drawn from RMAF’s PASKAU, RMN’s PASKAL, the Malaysian Army’s GGK as well as RMP’s VAT 69/UTK units. It is not known whether the NSOF operatives were also attached to BM 6.
Nevertheless, prior to the operation, the US Special Forces led by the Navy SEAL had successfully conducted nightime raid on the pirate’s hideout in Gadaado on January 26, rescuing two aid workers, an American and a Dane.
The commando were parachuted in the dark from special operation aircraft, walk their way amidst heavy fire, rescue the hostages and were brought out from Somalia via special operation helicopters awaiting for them and ferried them to safety.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/11 special

The Haqqani History: Bin Ladin's Advocate Inside the Taliban

New Documents – Posted on 9/11 Anniversary – Offer Partial View Inside Newly-Dubbed Terrorist Network

(courtesy of Harvard University)

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 389 Posted - September 11, 2012
Edited by Barbara Elias-Sanborn
For more information contact:
Barbara Elias-Sanborn - 202/994-7000

FBI Wanted Poster - Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani,

Washington, D.C., September 11, 2012 – In the wake of the State Department's recent designation of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, declassified documents posted today – on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – by the National Security Archive offer new insight into the Haqqani family's long history with militancy. The records on Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani detail direct meetings between Haqqani and U.S. diplomats, [Doc 4] his role as a Taliban military commander, [Doc 2] and intimate ties to foreign militants, [Doc 1] al-Qaeda connections, [Doc 5] as well as his potentially critical function as a major advocate for Osama bin Laden within the Taliban administration. [Doc 3]
The released documents include a confession from Haqqani that he had enjoyed very amicable relations with U.S. officials during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but that the friendship soured after the 1998 U.S. bombing of a Haqqani-linked terrorist camp in Khost, Afghanistan, undertaken by President    Bill Clinton in retaliation for al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Although the U.S. decided to officially declare the Haqqani Network a terrorist organization only on September 7, 2012, Haqqani's ties to extremism and al-Qaeda date back to the Soviet intervention and the founding of al-Qaeda. All major leaders in the Haqqani group had already been identified as al-Qaeda and Taliban affiliates and sanctioned by the UN at the request of Washington. [Doc 6]
The National Security Archive obtained the documents below through the Freedom of Information Act. As the U.S. government declassifies and releases more materials, the Archive will make them available, including through future Web postings.

Document 1 - Karachi 01617: U.S. Consulate Karachi, Cable, "The Harakat-ul-Ansar - The Pakistan Dimension [Excised]," March 29, 1995, Secret, 14 pp.
Describing long-standing ties between Jalaluddin Haqqani and foreign terrorists, a report by the U.S. Department of State on the Kashmiri militant group Harakat-ul-Ansar notes "many of the activists of Harakat-ul-Ansar are reportedly veterans of the Afghan war who fought along with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani in Paktia Province. A significant portion of the membership is non-Pakistani, made up of Afghan war veterans from Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, and other countries, all of whom have stayed on after conclusion of the Afghan jihad. Three sources have told us that the membership also includes a small number of American muslims - we've heard numbers ranging from six to sixteen…"

Document 2 - Islamabad 00154 : U.S. Embassy (Islamabad) Cable, "Afghanistan: Jalaluddin Haqqani's Emergence As a Key Taliban Commander," January 7, 1997, Confidential, 14pp.
Taliban military commander Jalaluddin Haqqani is reported in this 1997 account to be "more liberal" in his opinions on social policy, such as women's rights, than other Taliban officials. But he does not seem to be in a position to influence Taliban positions on these issues. Haqqani nevertheless remains respected as a competent and influential officer in Taliban military affairs. His ties to "various radical Arab groups" concern the Department of State, as one source reports that "in exchange for weapons and money… [he is] offering shelter for various Arabs in areas of Paktia province." The Department notes that "reporting in other channels indicate that Haqqani maintains these links" with radical Arab elements in Afghanistan. An additional previously published document similarly discusses Haqqani's ties to Arab and Kashmiri militants.

Document 3 - Islamabad 04450: U.S. Embassy (Islamabad) Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Said to Loosen Grip on Bin Ladin as They Increasingly Turn to Him for Financial Support and Advice," June 12, 1998, Confidential, 9 pp.
Sources inform U.S. officials that Jalaluddin Haqqani is an important individual advocating for Osama bin Laden in the Taliban administration. Washington is concerned as bin Laden appears to be operating largely free of Taliban government control and is being protected by Taliban elements. Sources claim bin Laden's augmented autonomy and influence are due at least in part to "the growing strength of his supporters within the Taliban movement... Bin Ladin is benefiting from the enhanced strength within the movement of such men as Jalaluddin Haqqani, a well-known pro-Taliban commander… Ideologically close to bin Ladin's internationalist Islamist positions, these men have successfully argued with other Taliban in recent months to reduce controls on bin Ladin."

Document 4 - State 095538: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Usama bin Ladin: Pressing High-Level Taliban Official Jalaluddin Haqqani on Bin Ladin," May 24, 1999, Secret, NODIS, 6 pp.
U.S. officials meet directly with Jalaluddin Haqqani in 1999 to discuss Osama bin Ladin. Haqqani is in the Taliban administration serving as "Acting Minister of Borders," and is known as a "key" official "with links to Arab militants." Despite noting that "he was deeply appreciative of U.S. assistance during the 'jihad' (holy war) against the Soviets and the (Afghan) communists," tensions between Haqqani and U.S. officials are palpable since American missiles destroyed a Haqqani-linked terrorist camp in Khost, Afghanistan, in August 1998. Haqqani initiates the meeting by "joking" that it was "good to meet someone from the country which had destroyed my base, my madrassh [sic], and killed 25 of my mujahideen."
Bin Laden remains the focus of the meeting with Haqqani. American officials tell Haqqani, "the U.S. would continue to make things difficult for the Taliban if the [bin Laden] issue remained unresolved. It was in the Taliban's advantage to expel him immediately." Haqqani agrees bin Laden is "a problem," but insists that "maybe the best solution is what is taking place now with him remaining in the country."

Document 5 - ISAF - RC East OSINT Summary: International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan (ISAF), Report, "The Landing Zone, RC East OSINT Summary," December 18, 2008, Secret, 8 pp.
Quoting unclassified sources, a letter ostensibly signed by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the head of a network "very closely aligned with Al Qaeda," was released denouncing Taliban leader Mullah Omar as "ineffective, ignorant, and illiterate." Most suspect the letter is a fake. "Intelligence agents with the international forces suggest that the letter originated from the Afghan government or its allies as an attempt to inflame tensions between insurgent groups." The previously-classified ISAF intelligence analyst commentary notes: "The strategy of separating the Taliban from Al Qaida is a pretty farfetched concept since the majority of low level fighters for these organizations are known to be used by both… Al Qaida plays a coordinating and strategic role between several syndicate organizations, enabling global support while simultaneously ensuring the harmonization of these groups. These actions assist with… the Taliban's main objective of forcing western forces out of Afghanistan and regaining control of the national government."
In other words, attempts to separate groups like al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and Taliban-affiliates are unlikely to succeed since on the ground they use many of the same fighters, and the Taliban benefit from al-Qaeda and Haqqani's strategic role in coordinating groups aiming to weaken U.S. efforts.
Note: "RC East OSINT Summary" stands for Regional Command [Afghanistan] East, Open Source Intelligence.

Document 6 - State 070339: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Instruction to Nominate Four Terrorist Leaders for Listing by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee," July 6, 2010, Unclassified, 5 pp.
Document 7 - State 002648: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Pre-Notification for Impending U.S. Domestic Designation and UNSCR 1267 Listing Request of Khalil Haqqani and Said Jan +Abd Al-Salam," January 10, 2011, Secret, 7 pp.
As discussed in these two cables, prior to the September 7, 2012, designation of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, the leaders of the Haqqani group had already been added to the UN 1267 Committee list of "individuals and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Taliban or al Qaida." The Department notes that "[l]isted individuals are subject to UN Security Council mandated sanctions, including a travel ban, arms embargo, and assets freeze." Individuals who had been named include Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, his sons Badruddin (killed in August 2012), Nasiruddin and Sirajuddin, as well as Jalaluddin's brother, Khalil Haqqani, who was said to have "acted on behalf of al Qa'ida (AQ) and has been linked to AQ military operations. In 2002 Khalil Haqqani deployed men to reinforce AQ elements in Paktia Province, Afghanistan." 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

EU forces attack Somali pirates on land

Nairobi [Radio RBC] Europe’s naval force patrolling off the coast East Africa said on Tuesday it had attacked Somali pirate installations on land, the first time it had conducted such an action since extending its remit from strictly to sea-based operations.

Initial reports indicated that there were no casualties during the operation, which happened earlier on Tuesday.

“We believe this action by the EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows,” the commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said in a statement. “The local Somali people … many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future.”

The action was conducted from the air and ”at no point did EU Naval Force ‘boots’ go ashore,” the statement said.

The European force, which is trying to stamp out piracy off the coasts of lawless Somalia, is made up of around 1,400 military personnel, nine warships and five maritime surveillance aircraft, according to NAVFOR’s website.

Despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea owing to the vast distances involved.

eaborne gangs have raked in an estimated $150 million in ransoms in what has become a highly organized, international criminal enterprise, security analysts say. Somali pirates in the failed state have carried out more than 800 attacks on ships, from private yachts to oil supertankers since 2008.

On March 23 the EU Council decided to allow its forces in the region to take “disruption action against known pirate supplies on the (Somali) shore.”

“Putting pressure on their business model by destroying their boats and eliminating their fuel dumps will make life more difficult for the sponsors of piracy and the pirates themselves,”

[Original Artile Here]