(eTN) – Information was received yesterday via the Nairobi-based Ecoterra International organization that authorities in Mogadishu reportedly intercepted two aircraft, crews, and passengers carrying what can only be described as ransom money worth millions of US dollars. The two flights appeared to have run short of fuel, or lost directions and landed at the main airport in the Somali capital, which is controlled by the African Union peace keeping troops and under government control.
Cutting the ocean terrorists off their blood money will be a huge blow to them, but also to Al Shabab and other Islamic-based militant groups, which are regularly reported to have received their fair share and then some more, fueling arms trafficking and financing terror attacks like the one against Uganda last year during the World Cup final.
A related interview with the Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, the Honorable Joel Morgan, often referred to as the “Anti-Piracy Minister,” will be published here very soon and his answers in regard of the Seychelles’ hard-line position vis-a-vis ocean terrorism – he fully endorsed this phrase coined by this correspondent from the early stages of this menace emerging – reaffirm what few still dare to say openly: “The naval coalition must revise their rules of engagement, contain the terrorists within the Somali national waters, and decisively respond just as soon as they cross the line, going out to hunt for maritime traffic. At the same time, robust action needs to be taken, too, to deny the ocean terrorists safe havens on land, disrupt and disable their financial network across the globe, just as it has been happening in regard of raising money for Al Qaida – as ultimately there is little difference between the two in the barbaric acts both groups perpetrate.”
The confiscation of at least US$3.6 million was further sweetened when the crews of the plane, faced with long detention in notorious Somali prisons, started to spill the beans by pointing to Nairobi-based backers and financial beneficiaries of the ransom deals, which will finally permit some arrests to take place and prosecutions being initiated against masterminds and financiers of ocean terrorism.
Just like Al Qaida sympathizers and financial backers are facing the full brunt of the laws now in place, those supporting, aiding, and abetting piracy terror on the open seas, too, must be held accountable by the same standards.
The economic damage done by the menace to Indian Ocean countries and along the Eastern African seaboard, in fact the entire world economy, is now estimated to be near US$20 billion, a big enough incentive to once and for all do the right thing: strengthen the mandate of the AU force to move from a dubious peace-keeping mission to an active role of cleansing Somalia of insurgents and Islamic terrorists on land, eliminating the ocean terrorists bases on land, and upon completion of the task, allow the international community to assist the Somali leadership to rebuild their country and provide an enabling environment to allow Somalis to create prosperity for themselves by honest means.
Meanwhile, on the open seas, with all the available monitoring and surveillance systems the naval coalition commands, the message must be clear, too – cross from your territorial waters into the open ocean, look like a pirate, act like a pirate, and be sure of a swift and harsh reaction, which the war on terror, including the terror of the open seas, requires as a measure of self defense.