The irony in this story is thicker than Rosie O’Donnell’s thigh. A hijacked Saudi tanker, the Sirius Star, taken by pirates off the coast of Somalia last week, is being threatened by Islamic militants who say they will “rescue” the ship from the pirates. Stating the hijacking is a crime against Islam (and really, what isn’t these days?), members of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab arrived in the town of Harardhere to battle the pirates.
Now before we go any deeper into this story let us get some things straight. Piracy is in fact against Islam. So, al-Shabab, which happens to be one of the splinter groups battling for control of Somalia along with the deposed Islamic Courts Union (which was tossed out of power in 2006 by the Ethiopians with a little help from the U.S.), is correct in that regard. Except, that’s not the sole reason they want to battle the Corsairs who hijacked the Saudi ship.
The tanker, filled with 100 million dollars worth of crude and 25 crew members, is being held for a ransom of 25 million dollars. I don’t know about you, but 25 cents on the dollar seems like a good deal to me. Perhaps one of the oil companies could pay the ransom, lay claim to the oil, and save 75 million dollars.
Just a thought from the perspective of someone always looking to save a buck.
On a more serious note, Islamic militants claiming piracy is against Islam is dripping with such thick irony one must wonder how the words could pass the mouth of the person who utters such a phrase. But then we get down to the truth of the matter, where the exception proves the rule.
The fighters told residents they would battle the pirates because the tanker, which is loaded with 2 million barrels of oil, is owned by a Muslim country and should not have been taken.
So if the tanker were owned by someone not Muslim, hijacking it is not against Islam and is allowed according to the extremists. This is the problem with Islam today. Preying on those not Muslim is, if not accepted, then certainly tolerated, and in some cases demanded. In case any of you out there do not remember the early history of the United States, we’ve already dealt with this problem once. The first line from the Marine Corps Hymn is “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,” where Marines battled the Barbary pirates after Congress got tired of paying tribute to the potentates who ruled there and President Jefferson decided to flex a little U.S. muscle.
The Barbary pirates (also called the Ottoman Corsairs) were hijacking ships off Northern Africa from around the Crusades to the 19th Century. In 1784 they took the first American flagged vessel. For many years tributes were paid, but the Congress of the day would not authorize enough money to buy the safety of American ships sailing the Mediterranean. Thus, the hijacking continued.
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, and John Adams, then the ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the ambassador to Britain from Tripoli. The Americans asked Adja why his government was hostile to American ships, even though there had been no provocation. The ambassador’s response was reported to the Continental Congress:
It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.
The short version of this story is eventually the U.S. Navy was founded, along with the Marines, who took the battle to the Muslim pirates, did what U.S. Marines do best, then took names. Hence the line in the Marine Corps Hymn.
Allegations of collusion between the pirates and the Islamists have been tossed about and denied.
In the southern port city of Kismayo, the spokesman of the city’s Shabab-led administration, Hassan Yacub, denies western allegations the militants are colluding with pirates and benefiting from ransom payments. He told VOA the Islamists will stamp out piracy if they regain power in Somalia.
It’s about time. A U.S. cruise ship with a thousand people aboard was just attacked by pirates this week. Whether this points to complete insanity or supreme confidence on the part of the buccaneers is up for debate, but I am wagering the former is the case. To believe oneself capable of overcoming a ship with a thousand people aboard using, as these pirates did, six men aboard two speed boats is incomprehensibly stupid.
But it does paint an entertaining picture in one’s mind to think of guys in little speedboats pulling alongside a large cruise ship capable of holding a thousand people and yelling something like “You will stop your ship in the name of Mohamed the Prophet and yield to our mighty pirate fleet, infidel.” It would be kind of like watching a miniature horse stallion attempt to mount a Clydesdale mare. You gotta admire the pluck, but you just know it isn’t going to happen.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Sirius Star are negotiating with the pirates. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said, “We do not like to negotiate with either terrorists or hijackers, but the owners of the tanker are the owners of the tanker, and they are the final arbiters of what happens there.” How this will all work out remains to be seen, but the promise of an Islamic Somalia stamping out piracy is not to be believed. Stamping out piracy against other Muslims, however, is certainly a believable goal of an Islamic Somalia.
Piracy off the African coast has been a lucrative job recently. In the last year alone pirates around the Horn of Africa have netted about 150 million dollars, which of course emboldens them and causes piracy to go up. If there’s one thing we have learned in this world (or at least those of us who can think logically), it’s one does not reward bad behavior. It is high time to gather a coalition of nations together to put these pirates down once and for all. The international force patrolling the Gulf of Aden and other flash points for pirates to strike is insufficient to do the job. I only call for a larger coalition because, remember, it’s bad when the U.S. acts like “imperialists” (which means doing what we do and taking matters into our own hands). Much better to build a “consensus” of allies and act “multilaterally.”
The U.S. Navy could very well handle the problem of piracy off the coast of Africa, but hasn’t really stepped into the fight yet other than to increase patrols. It probably won’t until these guys have the temerity to snatch an American flagged ship and demand some ransom. At that point, all I will have to say is “From the halls of Saddam’s palaces to the old Somali shore.”