"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Media Sympathy for the Somali Pirates

The Somali piracy saga is becoming increasingly bizarre.

A week after the announcement of a US strategy on piracy, the only surviving pirate responsible for the kidnap of American Captain Richard Phillips has arrived in New York to face trial.

After one unsuccessful escape attempt, Captain Phillips was rescued in a dramatic and skillful operation by US Navy SEALs. Snipers fired three shots in the dark from a rolling deck, killing three pirates simultaneously.

A fourth pirate, who had boarded a US warship to seek a ransom payment and medical treatment, was captured.

Abduhl Wali-i-Musi, pictured above grinning as he arrives on American soil, seems to be a fast learner, however; he not only claimed to be 16 to try to get restrictions on the ability of the US to try him, but he also broke down in tears in court.

His mother wants to be flown to the US so she can 'be with him'; before she gets a stack of US taxpayers' cash, there are probably some pertinent questions to be asked about where she was when he was holding terrified hostages at gunpoint and robbing innocent people.

She appealed directly to President Obama to release her son: 'I appeal to President Obama to pardon my teenager; I request him to release my son or at least allow me to see him and be with him during the trial,'

Preferably the latter option, presumably - might as well bring the family, too.

Incredible as it may seem, some are already plotting to throw every obstacle possible in the way of the trial - the man's mother has also appealed to the Somali Justice Advocacy Centre in Minneapolis. Director Omar Jamal has promised to help get 'justice' for her son.

Jamal said:

'What we have is a confused teenager, overnight thrown into the highest level of the criminal justice system in the United States out of a country where there's no law at all,'

Ah yes. Best absolve him of all responsibility for his actions, then. Because everyone who has never had an education and comes from a failed state becomes a murderous robber, don't they?

Even Americans are in on the act:

Ron Kuby, a New York-based civil rights lawyer, said he has been in discussions about forming a legal team to represent the Somali.

'I think in this particular case, there's a grave question as to whether America was in violation of principles of truce in warfare on the high seas,' said Kuby.

'This man seemed to come onto the Bainbridge under a flag of truce to negotiate. He was then captured. There is a question whether he is lawfully in American custody and serious questions as to whether he can be prosecuted because of his age.'

I personally find such thinking astounding, but then Mr Kuby is far from alone. At the weekend, Dutch commandos freed 20 hostages from yet another ship being held to ransom by Somali pirates.

A fishing vessel had been captured and was being used as a 'mother ship' to instigate attacks on larger ships in the region. What did the Dutch do with all the captured pirates?

The spokesman said the pirates were set free because NATO does not have a maritime detainment policy, meaning Dutch national law would apply in this case.
"They can only arrest them if the pirates are from the Netherlands, the victims are from the Netherlands, or if they are in Netherlands waters," he said.

Of course. I'm surprised that they haven't launched a legal action against the Dutch government to get their confiscated weapons back.

However, the 'poor them' aspect is perhaps the most effective strategy these people have. The BBC are in on the act, using the term pirate in inverted commas and calling the man involved a 'teenager' to evoke sympathy.

Independent journalist Johann Hari, a man who once compared the British Empire to Stalin's Russia, seizes the opportunity to rehabilitate not only Somali pirates, but the European ones that were the curse of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Apparently their egalitarianism and system of wealth distribution was second to none, and their only crime was being murderous, thieving thugs - not much of a crime at all, nowadays.

According to Hari - and this may shock you - Somali piracy is all the fault of the West anyway. Who'd have thought it?

You see, mysterious European ships apparently keep dumping toxic and even nuclear waste off of Somalia's coast. They don't have an effective government (something else which is presumably our fault rather than theirs), so they were powerless to prevent this. It seems that Hari found at least one trustworthy minister in Somalia, who told him that European governments were passing hospital and industrial waste on to the Mafia, who then kindly dump it off the coast of Somalia to the consternation of all poor, law-abiding Somalis.

No, this is not the plot of the next Rambo film, although it does seem just as unlikely.

I'm prepared to accept that some unscrupulous criminals are doing things like this; but the way the Somali government tells it through Hari, we get very much into the famous Somali/Muslim 'everything is a Western plot against us' mindset.

He then goes on to pretend that these pirates, or at least many of them, are romantic, heroic figures, plucky little men taking on the might of an unjust world. Maybe Hari could write the script for that new Rambo film?

Because his worldview is pure fantasy. He acknowledges that some of the pirates are 'just gangsters', but fails to explain in any meaningful detail how taking innocent people hostage then demanding large sums of cash is helping to defend Somalia from anything. I'm sure if one of these brave men (whom he refers to as 'the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia', seemingly without embarrassment) had ever captured a vessel which intended to dump illegally, he'd have told us all about it.

So I can only surmise that not once, out of the hundreds of pirate attacks over the last few years, has such a vessel ever been caught. This either means that Hari's perspective is based on lies and self-deception, or the volunteer coastguard work about as well as everything else in Somalia - you decide.

Hari continues:

The independent Somalian news-site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking - and it found 70 percent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country's territorial waters." During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America's founding fathers paid pirates to protect America's territorial waters, because they had no navy or coastguard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

If you've ever wondered about the famous British sense of humour, I can only assume it is on display right here. Of course ordinary Somalis support the pirates - the ransoms account for their only national income other than the aid we give them. That and the fact they're stuck with the 'us Vs. them' mindset which permeates the Muslim world and does far more harm than good.

As for the George Washington example - well yes, it is actually very different, clearly.

Does protecting the coast really entail robbing and holding to ransom everyone who approaches it? Is this what George Washington had in mind? I doubt it - there is a huge difference between pirates and mercenaries.

Anyway, the bottom line is we must stop committing 'crimes' before expecting the Somalis to do the same.

But these men are no modern day versions of Robin Hood. Whilst their country starves and collapses around them, they spend their cash on flash cars, women and even have accountants and spokesmen. If anything these gangsters perpetuate the sorry cycle of misery that is life in Somalia.

Ben MacIntyre in the Times has a different and slightly more interesting perspective; he outlines the idea that these men are not pirates but 'Shifta', African bandits which have plagued this region for centuries. The difference is that now they operate at sea because the pickings are far richer.

Here's a description of these fine, upstanding Robin Hoods (as Johann Hari would have it):

They had a reputation for extreme barbarity. One British officer based in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya in 1942 described the marauding, heavily armed bands of Somali shiftas as “ruthless outlaws who killed for the sake of killing, holding human life cheap if it stood in the way of rape and pillage”.

However, the telling 'we must improve conditions in Somalia' tone is still there.

We tried, and we failed. We now prop up a puppet government which effectively has no control outside the grounds of the presidential palace and pretend we're helping.

We're not. We must leave Somalia's internal affairs to Somalis. It is the only way. Pirate vessels should be blown out of the water on sight, and it should be made clear that any ship taken will be rescued with lethal force if necessary, and that includes attacks on the pirates' land bases.

No payment, no legal aid, no asylum for captured pirates.

We need to demonstrate that we will defend our property, our citizens and our trade routes, and not let the world descend into darkness and barbarity.

There came news last Saturday that French troops had stormed a yacht being held to ransom. Four French hostages were freed successfully, but one died in the operation, along with two pirates. The French government confirmed that they were willing to recapture any French-flagged vessel targeted by pirates, by force if necessary.

It is tragic that a hostage died, but the crack troops will get better with practice. It seems the only way to stop Somalia's problems further becoming the entire world's problem.


LibertyMine(retired) said...

They should have fired a fourth shot. The story would have been dead in the water.

Dr.D said...

It is most unfortunate that we let this young fellow live. Unfortunately, there are lawyers on US Navy ships, and everyone knows where that leads. It makes absolutely no sense at all for the US to go through all this fol-de-rol for this one young pirate.

MK said...

"...or at least allow me to see him and be with him during the trial."

Oh yeah and once she is over in America too, she and all the stupid lefties will point at her remaining family back in somalia and cry that a family has been broken up and shitbag here needs his families support. Once they're over there, then they all claim asylum and presto- Piracy, a path to citizenship.

"According to Hari - and this may shock you - Somali piracy is all the fault of the West anyway."

Off course, the left always blame the west, first, last and always.

"Maybe Hari could write the script for that new Rambo film?"

Maybe hari could be dropped off in Somalia with the rest of the savages he loves so much.

WAKE UP said...

Piracy is so romantic, eh.