Saturday, February 19, 2011

Piracy’s Terrorism Nexus Revealed

First, let me caveat this post that news sources out of Somalia are notoriously unreliable. Anything coming out of Southern Somalia is suspect as al Shabaab owns the media and uses it as their own propaganda arm. There has been OSINT reporting of indirect coordination between al Shabaab and pirates before and much of this nexus has been overstated. But this reporting (and similar recent stories) seems credible and should be a concern to those who still argue that piracy is little more than a nuisance to shipping companies. A 10-20% piece of the total 2010 piracy haul would amount to 20-40 million USD added to al Shabaab’s coffers for 2011 if piracy trends continue unabated.

Shaking down clans, other militant groups, and the general population for revenue is par for Shabaab’s course. With a number of diverse revenue sources, some involving maritime trade,
al Shabaab has become the richest of the Al Qaeda affiliates (and yes, they are al Qaeda). Many of AQ’s traditional funding sources for have dried up. Yet terrorism remains an economy of force tactic, so a few million distributed between affiliates here and there is sufficient to sustain the global jihaadi movement. Chalk up another reason to develop a more aggressive, coherent, and decisive campaign against piracy (and needless to say, al Shabaab).

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

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