Sunday, November 16, 2008

Funding the jihad

Let's say there was one street in your town which was well-known for its high rate of armed robbery and nearly complete lack of police presence. Let's also say that on occasion, you had no choice but to travel this street. You just couldn't avoid it. How would you do it? Well, you'd probably do it armed to the teeth (let's assume for the sake of discussion that the robbers on this street are, in general, armed with nothing more than a knife) and you probably wouldn't do it alone. You'd have every buddy of yours with you, and they'd be armed to the teeth, too.

One thing you know you wouldn't do is waltz down the street naked waving your wallet in one hand and your Rolex Submariner in the other, yet that's pretty much what international shipping companies do every day off the coast of Somalia. The most recent cases are described here.

It seems that in most cases I've read about over the past few years, the ship and crew are released unharmed after a ransom is paid by the shipping company or by the government of the shipping company. It seems that the risks and the ransom are viewed as simply a cost of doing business. But in shrugging off these hijackings, the shippers and their governments are aiding and abetting international terrorism. I mean, seriously...where do they think this money is going? Mansions and Ferraris for the hijackers? Please. This is fucking Somalia we're talking about. While I'm sure some ringleaders are being handsomely paid off, it's a sure bet that the lion's share of the ransom money is going into the international Jihadi treasury.

Think about it for a minute. How many of these hijacks-for-ransom did you hear about six, seven, eight years ago? Not a whole lot. But since western nations started getting sophisticated about shutting off the sources of financing for al Qaeda and their ilk, these hijackings have become a nearly daily occurrence.

While the US and other NATO countries have dispatched ships to the waters off Somalia to counter the hijackings, it's time to get tough. Not just with the hijackers, but with the shipping companies. Put them on notice that if a ship is hijacked, we won't permit a ransom to be paid. An effort will be made to rescue the ship and crew but failing that, the ship - along with its crew and the hijackers - will be sunk.

This may sound harsh, and it is. But since it's more likely that these ransoms are paid through murky international funds transfers than by suitcases full of cash, this will have to do until international banking laws catch up with the times and can stop the new flow of money to the jihad.

Update: It seems the pirates are making themselves rich from the ransom money. But I think it's still safe to say that the bulk of the money is going to international terrorism.

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