Magazine article Newsweek

The Danger of Escalation

Magazine article Newsweek

The Danger of Escalation

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Hosenball

A document from a hijacked ship contained a 'list of written rules' of pirate conduct.

It was a hit with the U.S. public, but president Obama's decision to authorize the Pentagon to kill three Somali pirates who took an American sea captain hostage sent shudders through the world's shipping and insurance industries. Because the pirates are motivated chiefly by money, maritime experts say, they have--at least until now--taken good care of the crews they hold captive. A document retrieved from a ship hijacked last year contained a "list of written rules" of conduct pirates had to follow, according to a maritime security expert who requested anonymity when discussing sensitive material. The document included a series of "punishments" to be imposed on any hijacker who struck a hostage.

Shipping companies and insurers are far more likely to fork over large ransoms if they have confidence that their personnel and cargo will be released unharmed, and while the scourge of piracy has been disruptive, so far there have been virtually no casualties among innocent people. According to estimates, there were 111 pirate attacks off the Somali coast in 2008; 42 were successful, resulting in the capture of 815 seamen. As of last week, according to one estimate, all but 37 had been released, and two had died--one reportedly of illness. Experts say the rate of attacks has increased sharply this year, and "the more [authorities] shoot, the more the pirates will shoot back," says Tom Wilson, aaSomalia analyst for the Britishaconsulting firm Control Risks. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.