Apr 21, 2009

The right to protect against pirates

by Katy Palmer

The Liberty Sun was the second vessel to fall into the hands of Somali pirates, last Tuesday. This attack occurred just days after the Maersk Alabama incident, in which Somali pirates held Richard Phillips, the captain of the ship “Alabama,” hostage for five days.

While the vessel only received damage from Somali grenades and automatic weapons, the pirates made their point clear — no U.S. military operations, no matter how severe, will intimidate the pirates.

“We have decided to kill U.S. and French soldiers if they happen to be among our future hostages,” said Abdullhai Ahmed, a member of the pirate group, according to CNN.

The pirates called the attempt to seize the Liberty “revenge” for the Alabama confrontation, where three Somali pirates met their death. In their mission to rescue Phillips, U.S. Navy Seals opted to fire on the pirates once the captain’s life appeared to be in serious danger.

U.S. military intelligence suspect Phillips’ rescue will only escalate violence in the Indian Ocean. Following this incident, Omar Dahir Idle, another member of the pirate group, told the Associated Press, “No one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land.”

Considering the damage the pirates have done in the past, these are two threats military should not ignore. Last year, sea gangs from Somalia attacked over 100 vessels in the Indian Ocean and taken countless victims hostage, according to CNN. Clearly, the pirates have figured out how to take over enemy vessels. And, clearly, nothing has been done to stop them.

On April 16, Reuters reported that foreign navies would protect a vessel placing underwater high-speed Internet cable from pirate attacks in the Somalia seas. While a logical move, overseas intelligence need a more aggressive back-up plan for when things go wrong. Not if things go wrong, but when.

The U.S. Navy has reported 23 hijackings this year alone, which is well ahead of last year’s pace of 40. A BBC correspondent told BBC news he believes there will be no major increase in the military effort unless a future hijacking results in the death of Americans.

But America cannot wait, we need to up our naval effort in the Indian sea, at least for a while. People’s lives are in danger, and the Somali forces have no desire to back down.

In a moment of panic, the military remained calm by waiting five days to save Phillips. Once it came time to execute the plan, the Seals terminated the pirates holding Phillips and returned the captain to safety.

America is known as a country that protects one’s rights. I think the right to live would fall under this category. Our Navy needs to remain a force off the coast of Somalia until these rights are secured and the pirates are dealt with.

Contact Katy Palmer at


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