Monday, April 24, 2017

The video showing private security forces fighting Somali pirates is actually from 2012

A contractor aims his rifle at Somali pirates. 

As many of you are probably aware of, the above video has gone viral. It shows an engagement between Somali pirates and private security contractors. The contractors fire several warning shots as the skiff and it then collides into the ship. The contractors continue firing and eventually drive off the pirates. As of this writing, the video has been viewed over 11 million times. That alone makes it worth posting, just in case any of the readers of this blog missed it.

But it turns out that the footage is a few years old. According to the Daily Mail, it happened in 2012, somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Yeah, it's the Daily Mail, but I have little reason to doubt their claims in this case, and for once they are debunking fake news (other than the fact that they claimed the contractors were armed with submachine guns when they are clearly using rifles). A lot of people are misrepresenting the footage.

People are saying that the video is recent and from the latest series of piracy attempts launched out of Somalia. That is false, and fairly obviously so since those incidents Indian and Sri Lankan ships. I am not sure the nationality of the ship in the video but the contractors are obviously Americans. That doesn't mean the ship was, but it makes the claim even less likely.

These attacks haven't been that successful either. Hostages have been taken but they were quickly rescued and other attackers have been driven off. It's a return to the bad old days where piracy was rampant in the waters near Somalia, which necessitated new security measures. Since the effected areas were near a critical shipping route, the world responded quickly and a major international effort quickly cracked down on pirates.

I also have to point out that I just watched the Tom Hanks movie, Captain Phillips, about the Mersk Alabama hijacking. The movie was good, but not worth a full review in my humble opinion. Still, that incident shows how badly things can go with these piracy attacks and why international cooperation, and armed guards, are needed in the waters around Somalia.

If there is any good news to be had it is that the government of Somalia is starting to function a bit better than it used too. The government can actually do something about pirates and will probably crack down on them as well.

The real fear is that local terrorists, like al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, could adopt piracy tactics. It wouldn't be any more difficult for these terrorists to launch assaults on commercial shipping and either kill or ransom the crew. Fortunately, al-Shabaab has been targeted heavily by both local and international forces and are rarely active in the parts of the country where piracy happens.

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