The Globalization of Somali Piracy

By Matthew Harwood

The breadth of Somalia's piracy criminal network is shockingly big, as at least one group of pirates has sent informers to London to provide intelligence and reconaissance on intended targets, reports the Guardian.

Take the Turkish vessel, the Karagöl, which was hijacked as it traversed the Gulf of Aden. Based on reports from its network of informers based out of London, the world capital of shipbroking, the pirates not only knew the vessel's cargo, layout, and route but had enough time to practice their assault based on the information they received.

"The attack on the Turkish ship," says the Guardian, "was a sign that the pirates have turned a regional phenomenon into a global criminal business that now reaches into the heart of London's shipping community."

This new wrinkle in the evolving phenomenon of Somali piracy came from a European military intelligence report leaked to a Spanish radio station yesterday.

The report has been circulated around those countries, including Britain, that are involved in the European Union's Operation Atalanta to protect ships against piracy in the area. It indicated that the hijacking of at least three vessels, including the Karagöl, the Greek cargo ship Titan, and Spanish tuna trawler Felipe Ruano, followed tipoffs from the London-centred network of informers, according to Cadena SER.

In each case, according to the report, the pirates had full knowledge of the cargo, nationality and course of the vessel.

The Guardian also reports that the national flag of the vessel is taken into account during the target selection process. Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, told the paper that it's more probable that pirates receive a list of targets from informers rather than a single target due to the ocean's vastness. He also noted that the pirates' sophistication has increased as funding from outside criminal groups have subsidized their actions.


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