Somalia: The Road


February 26, 2010: Frustrated in their failure to seize well guarded cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates are going after Yemeni and Somali fishing boats. The fishing boats can be used for smuggling people into Yemen, or as a mother ship for piracy far from the coast, in the Indian ocean. This is bad for the fishermen, who are typically murdered when their ships are seized at sea. The international anti-piracy patrol has made it nearly impossible for the pirates to seize ships within the Gulf of Aden. Only one ship has been taken in the Gulf in the last year. The area is heavily patrolled, with two convoy lanes for ships to use for nearly risk free transit of the Gulf. So more and more pirates are going outside the Gulf. It is believed that the pirate gangs are trying (and perhaps succeeding) in bribing people in the shipping industry to supply positions of ships approaching the Gulf of Aden or leaving, or approaching, the Persian Gulf. The pirate gangs have associates in London and Persian Gulf ports, where shipping companies are located. These outfits get reports on where merchant ships are, and people with access to that data can be bribed.

So far this month, nearly 10,000 civilians have fled Mogadishu, most ending up in an impromptu camp along the road west from the city. A lot more of the violence is Islamic radical groups fighting each other. Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have abandoned their truce. In the last few days there has been more attacks by Hizbul Islam and al Shabaab on each other, so now the leaders of the radical groups declared the civil war among the Islamic terror groups was back on. There have been outbreaks of similar violence in Kismayo (a smaller port south of Mogadishu) and a town on the Kenyan border (and controlling a key road for truck traffic, and the collection of protection money). But it isn't just about money, many Somali Islamic radicals are hostile to the al Shabaab alliance with al Qaeda, and participation in international Islamic terrorism.

February 23, 2010: A small (120 foot) India freighter, and its nine man crew was seized by pirates just outside the Gulf of Aden. Pirates are increasingly avoiding the anti-piracy patrol, even if it means spending more time going far out to sea.

February 22, 2010: Near the Bakara arms market (which is neutral territory for everyone), six people, including three Hizbul Islam terrorists, died as the Hizbul Islam men were placing a roadside bomb (meant for killing al Shabaab leaders). The terrorists were inexperienced with these bombs, and fatally screwed up. In the same area, three al Shabaab fighters were found dead (shot in the head). The killers were believed to be from rival Hizbul Islam Islamic radicals.

February 18, 2010: In Dobley, a town on the Kenyan border, Hizbul Islam fighters have fought and driven out their al Shabaab rivals. The two groups argued over who should control the road, which carried much of the foreign aid and trade goods coming into the country.




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