Is U.S. Preparing for a New War…against Pirates?
Monday, February 28, 2011
Scott and Jean Adam
In the wake of the murder of four Americans, the U.S. may be considering tougher actions against pirates from Somalia.
Until now, Western powers have tolerated acts of piracy off the eastern coast of Africa. The biggest show of force to date has been to position warships off Somalia’s coast, which has not stopped more attacks from occurring.
But as long as hostages weren’t seriously hurt, the U.S. and other governments have put the Somali pirates issue on the backburner.
That may change after the way the hijacking of an American yacht ended. The boat’s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California, and two friends and crew members, Phyllis Macay and Robert A. Riggle of Seattle, were murdered by a gang of pirates while the FBI negotiated with two of the Somalis on a U.S. warship.
The killings took place after the FBI hostage-rescue negotiator aboard the USS Sterett decided the two pirates weren’t serious, and the decision was made to arrest them. U.S. Navy Seals then stormed the yacht, only to find the four hostages either dead or mortally wounded.
The outcome “is certain to add momentum to a wide-ranging review the Obama administration is conducting on how to combat the growing threat from bands of Somali pirates,” wrote Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times.
The Adams were Catholic missionaries who distributed Bibles to remote communities. They had already visited Sri Lanka and southern India and were in the Indian Ocean on their way to Djibouti when they were kidnapped. “Djibouti is a big refueling stop,” Jean said on her web site. “I have NO idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we'll do some local touring.”
Pirates seized their yacht just two days after U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska sentenced a teenaged Somali pirate, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, to more than 33 years in prison for the April 2009 hijacking of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.
If the Obama administration and its international allies do take military action in the Indian Ocean, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time the United States has clashed with pirates. Way back in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson launched what came to be known as the First Barbary War when he sent the American navy “to the shores of Tripoli” to counter pirates who were seizing U.S. merchant ships and holding them for ransom. The war ended with a peace treaty in 1805, but piracy continued until a Second Barbary War in 1815 and another treaty finally settled the matter.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Suddenly, a Rise in Piracy’s Price (by Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times)
Seizing of Pirate Commanders Is Questioned (by Eric Schmitt, New York Times)
Jean and Scott Adam, SoCal Missionaries on Global Yacht Tour, Taken Hostage by Somali Pirates, Dragged Back to Lair (by Simone Wilson, LA Weekly)
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