The last Somali pirate action against Americans I blogged about was in April 2009, but the chaos on the high seas has not abated.
Today, we learn four Americans are dead after Somali Muslim pirates kidnapped and killed them in the Gulf of Aden. Pray for their families:
Four Americans, including a couple from Southern California, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates were fatally wounded by their captors while negotiations between the pirates and U.S. military forces were underway in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.
The four were aboard the vessel Quest, which was captured last week.
“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of Central Command.
[Updated, 6:45 a.m.: The bodies of the four Americans are on board the carrier Enterprise off the Horn of Africa, according to Central Command. The names of the Southern California couple are Scott and Jean Adams, boaters who were based out of Orange County.]
Four U.S. Navy ships had been shadowing the Quest after it was taken over by the pirates, Mattis said. While negotiations were underway to gain the release of the Americans, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the Quest. The four Americans had been shot, Mattis said.
Two of the pirates were killed by U.S. forces and 13 captured, Mattis said. After boarding the Quest, military personnel found the bodies of two other pirates. The incident occurred about 1 a.m. EST.
“Despite immediate steps to provide lifesaving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” according to a statement from Central Command.
The Adams were Christian missionaries who distributed Bibles around the world:
Since 2004, the couple had distributed Bibles as “unassociated missionaries” on their boat. According to their blog, the couple sailed more than 60,000 miles and distributed Bibles in Central America, French Polynesia, the Cooks, Samoa, and Tonga.
Here’s more from the couple’s blog: “Scott & I feel that we can do more as ‘unassociated missionaries.’ (Our only association is that of fiscal oversight by the Quest Mission Church in Bakersfield.) This allows us to follow the Spirit as we search for “homes” for our Bibles. We hope to be a blessing to those who receive these Bibles. This year (2007) we shipped 17 cases of Bibles to the Quest in New Zealand for our mission (about 500 Bibles). We had hoped to send more, but the shipping costs were oppressive. Because Catholics have a slightly different Bible than Protestants we carry both Bibles, and at several different reading levels.”
The other couple were their friends Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle of Seattle.
John Hayward says what the White House won’t speak or do:
The historical remedy for piracy is the destruction of their port cities, but that seems unlikely in this case. Every Somali surface vessel should be given a warning to return to port, and then blown out of the water by the United States Navy, in a blockade to be maintained indefinitely until a stable government exists in Somlia. (Yes, “indefinitely” means a very long time).
There is no reason for any Somali boat to ride the ocean waves – their meager shipping needs can be handled by carefully monitored commercial vessels, and they can be allowed small fishing boats close to shore. Protecting the huge amount of commercial and private sea traffic in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Gulf of Aden would require a massive fleet, standing guard and awaiting action at the convenience of pirates. Aggressively hunting down and killing Somali boats is a much more practical use of our limited but powerful naval resources, and transfers the initiative to our Navy instead of the pirates. It’s time to take the initiative.
Piracy is terrorism. The cancer is spreading unchecked.
Is this warning going to go unheeded?
The United States needs to shift its approach to fighting Somali pirates by applying techniques used to combat terrorism, as the armed gangs move further out to sea, a U.S. Navy commander said on Wednesday.
Pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden and increasingly in the Indian Ocean, despite efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on attacks.
The number of hostages is also rising sharply, jumping from around 350 in September to some 750 today, according to the U.S. military.
Vice Admiral Mark Fox, the head of U.S. naval forces in the turbulent region, said he was investigating possible links between pirates and Somali-based insurgents linked to al Qaeda but acknowledged he had no “explicit” ties.
Regardless, he believed that some of the pre-emptive techniques used to battle militants should be used to combat pirates, particularly the aggressive approach to tracking terrorist funding. He suggested the link between pirates and militants might be financial.
“I gotta look at this and go: ‘Okay, they’re both (pirates and al Shabaab militants) in Somalia. There’s a lot of money,'” said Fox, commander of naval forces in the U.S. military’s massive Central Command’s region, which includes Afghanistan.
One of the hallmarks of the war on terrorism has been the policy of pre-emptive strikes to kill would-be attackers before they can act.
But Fox noted that the European Union’s Naval Force Somalia, known as EU NAVFOR, did not want to see more lethal strikes and declined to endorse them himself.
“EU has made an explicit (statement): ‘We don’t think that increased levels of lethal tactics are the way ahead,'” Fox said.
“And don’t misquote me here: I don’t advocate that we necessarily go into a higher level of lethal activity but I do advocate broadening the overall scope of how we’re tackling the problem.”