Somalia: More Senseless Violence


November 23, 2010:  The fighting or, more correctly, skirmishing, continues in towns from central Somalia to Mogadishu to the Kenyan border. In the past week there's been more violence in these towns and villages than in Mogadishu. Out in the countryside, the Sufi militias are giving al Shabaab a hard time. The various sites of these battles are seeing over a hundred casualties a week, slightly more than are occurring in Mogadishu. There are also several little clan wars going on, usually caused by water or land disputes. Total combat casualties for the week have been over 500 for all Somalia south of Somaliland and Puntland.

Al Shabaab continues to have money problems, as the U.S. and other Western nations cracked down on fund raising by the Islamic radical groups. So far this year, at least 30 people have been arrested in the United States for this sort of thing, and nearly as many in other Western nations. Intelligence agencies have been able to get a better idea of how extensive the network of al Shabaab supporters is, and it is large. This is partly because some of the al Shabaab supporters do not mention al Shabaab or Islamic terrorism when seeking money in Somali exile communities. Instead, the pitch is medical and other aid to victims of the violence in Somalia, but a lot of the money collected actually goes to support more violence.

Attempts to arrest and prosecute pirates have had some impact. About 700 Somalis are under arrest or convicted for piracy at the moment, half of them in Somalia (where most such men serve a few weeks in jail and are released.) Thus the judicial system is not providing much of deterrent to would-be pirates. Countries in the region won't prosecute pirates unless Western nations provide the cash, some of which is stolen by local officials.

The pirates have found that the longer they hold captured crews and ships, the more money they can extract from the shipping companies. Thus, over the last two years, average time held has gone from 55 days to 106 days. Average ransoms, which used to average $1 million per vessel, have also nearly doubled.

November 21, 2010: Police arrested six Kenyan Somali high school students and a Nigerian man with a British passport off the Kenyan coast. The seven were caught using a speedboat to try and get past Kenyan patrols and into Somalia. The Nigerian was an Islamic radical who arranged to smuggle al Shabaab recruits to Somalia. The students were recruited by radical clerics in Kenyan Somali neighborhoods.

November 19, 2010:  For the second time this year, the Seychelles Coast Guard rescued a Seychelles fishing boat, and its seven man crew, that had been seized near the Seychelles, and caught by the coast guard before it could be taken to Somalia. The coast guard patrol boat, using information from anti-piracy patrol aircraft, caught up with the pirates and threatened to attack, despite the captured fishermen used as human shields, unless the pirates surrendered. Seychelles prosecutes and imprisons captured pirates, in an effort to discourage them from operating near the Seychelles (which are 1,500 kilometers from Somalia).

November 18, 2010: In an increasingly common event, the 26 man crew of a Chinese freighter fought off attempts by several speedboats full of pirates. One sailor, and several pirates, were injured.

November 13, 2010: Overnight, three Somali pirates were killed when, at night, they tried to board a Kenyan patrol boat off the coast of Kenya. The sailors opened fire, and believed they killed at least one more pirate, as the pirate boat escaped in the darkness.






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