Monday, April 20, 2009

Somali Pirate- al Qaeda Connection?

To spite the speculation that there is such a connection - and everyone seems keen to make one - I'll argue here that it's unlikely to exist to spite al Queda's likely interest to form some sort of common cause with the pirates. In presenting this argument, I relied on several sources outside of my own general knowledge including discussions with friends who have more or less forgotten far more than I will ever know on the subject. This is a blog, not an in-depth analysis. I'm trying to make the complex situation in the area a bit more simple, not to patronize the reader, but to make the issue as clear as possible to people with a passing interest in the subject.

The first and most obvious difference between al Qaeda and the Somali pirates is ideology. The pirates are driven by greed and criminal intentions whereas al Qaeda derives it's "legitimacy" from its ideological background and goals.

Secondly, there is a difference in structure and culture between the typical and classic al Qaeda organization and the clans that dominate Somali social structure and to the extent that it exists, the culture. 

Thirdly, politics in Somalia is based on clan warfare where several clans are at war with each other for control of the country.

To date, al Qaeda's inroads into Somali Muslims have been made among the Hawiye clan in Central Somalia. Trained al Qaeda operatives work within and operate under the protection of this clan but don't control or influence much within the politics of the clan itself.

The Somali pirates are members of the Darood clan, the principal rival of the Hawiye clan, and operate out of Northeastern Somalia. The pirates launch their attacks from coves on the northern coast of the Puntland region into the Gulf of Aden. To date, hijacked ships have been taken back to those coves where they hold the ships and conduct negotiations.  Darood clansmen in Puntland, conspiring with regional government officials, are not going to let their rivals among the Hawiye come into their area and take over their lucrative piracy operations.

Al Qaeda publicists would like to jump on the back of the successful Somali pirates whether they enjoy any association or not. It simply makes al Qaeda look more powerful. It is POSSIBLE, though I have no proof, that the Yemeni "mother ship" in operation this past week might have an al Qaeda nexus of some sort. If true, it would be an interesting development and one to watch closely.

Said Ali Jabir Al Khathim Al Shihri (aka Abu Sufian al Azdi), a senior Saudi al Qaeda operative in operating in Yemen called on Somali jihadists to increase their strikes “against the crusaders at sea and in Djibouti.” He said, “The crusaders, the Jews and the traitorous rulers did not come to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden except to wage war against you in Somalia and abolish your newly established emirate, and by Allah, they shall be defeated. They shall bring a curse upon their people.”  Al Shihri was captured in Afghanistan in Dec. 2001 and was released from Guantanamo Bay six years later to the Saudi government. He now says "By Allah we shall open against them (non-Wahabbis)  a major front in the Arabian Peninsula.”

So while the pirates have no reason to make common cause with al Qaeda, alQaeda does have significant motivation to ally itself with the pirates. It's something to watch, something to blog about from time to time and from a Western perspective, it will be interesting to see what moves (if any) Washington makes.


elisaveta said...

I'm sorry for my english and competation, but i'm not completly sure that the ideology makes difference between al Qaeda and Pirates.-The terrorism also aims to economic impoverish to the nations just as piracy greedness.--Greedness is also part of the any fanatism and both is any psychopancy.

LL said...

The pirates take ships for the sake of ransom, not for the sake of worldwide revolution.

I admit that the distinction between al Qaeda and Somali pirates is between different terrorist groups. Perhaps it is not that great of a difference - more on the order of how they spend their money.

Anonymous said...

Yes.--Maybe you have a good reason about.--By the way this is a very intersting blog!--I regulary enjoy this.

Anonymous said...

Abdi i am ogadenia i have nt free down ethiopia is fuck country bt i want indepence ogadenia any time any mint we fighting ethiopia or knw border ethiopia after ogadenia and ethiopia the neibghb is used beace

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