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Posted August 20, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Somali Pirates Sentenced to Six Months Plus Time Served   1 comment

altFile image: Indian sailors on the INS Tir arrest the hijackers of the Prantalay 11, a related anti-piracy operation

By MarEx 

On Friday, a court in Mumbai sentenced the 15 alleged pirates from the Prantalay 14 hijacking to six months in prison plus time served. The Somali nationals were accused of taking control of the Prantalay, a Thai fishing boat, for use as a pirate mother ship.

In January 2011, the accused attempted to board a merchant ship off the coast of Kerala, 1,400 nm from Somali shores. The vessel sent a distress call and the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard responded. 10 of the 25 pirates aboard the boat died during the firefight that followed, a skirmish known in India as the “Battle of Minicoy Island.”

The 15 surviving Somali nationals were detained and accused of kidnapping, kidnapping for ransom (a separate offense), attempted murder and arms-related charges. They were acquitted of kidnapping for ransom because the former hostages could not be brought before the court to substantiate the charges.

The accused were found guilty on the remaining charges and sentenced seven years and a small fine. As they had spent six and a half years in jail while their case proceeded through Indian courts, the men only have six months left to serve. They will be deported to Somalia after they have completed their terms.

“The offenders have been given a lesson that in India there is rule of law and that the offenders are brought to justice,” Special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle told the Times of India. “From 2011, since the pirates were arrested, the entire piracy operation in the western waters of India has come down . . .  now, I believe that it will go down to zero.”

Sentencing awaits for an additional 103 alleged pirates who were detained by Indian forces in 2011, the peak year for Somali piracy in the western Indian Ocean.

Posted August 14, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Nigerian Pirates Abduct Five Seafarers from Freighter   1 comment

oya1The Oya 1 (undated file image courtesy Cape West Logistics)
 

By MarEx 

Moroccan media report that the general cargo vessel Oya 1 (ex name Celia) was boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea on the night of July 29. The attackers reportedly abducted two Moroccan officers, Ahmed Janani and Abdelkader Benhala, and three other crewmembers.

The ICC IMB Piracy Reporting Centre confirmed that the Nigerian Navy responded to an attack on a general cargo ship 15 nm southwest of Bonny Island at about the same time. IMB said that it was reported that some crew members were missing, and that the Nigerian Navy towed the vessel into port for an investigation.

Nigeria pushes back on maritime piracy

The Nigerian Navy recently extended a surge operation to counter attacks on merchant shipping in the Gulf of Guinea, which spiked last year with multiple hijackings and kidnappings. The service’s chief of staff, Vice Adm. Iboke-Ete Ibas, said that the Nigerian Navy had reduced the count of successful piracy incidents by 90 percent year-on-year for the period from January through June. “This improvement in security situation within Nigeria’s offshore maritime domain is attributable to the intensive patrols and efforts of Operation Tsare Teku,” he said. “The Nigerian Navy remains absolutely committed to creating a secure and enabling maritime environment for economic activities to thrive toward national growth,”

The waters off Nigeria continue to lead for maritime kidnappings, with 31 crewmembers abducted in the year to date, according to the IMB. The Gulf of Guinea also leads for armed attacks on vessels. Nigeria’s legislature has taken note: the leader of the Nigerian house of representatives, Yakubu Dogara, recently introduced a bill to increase funding for anti-piracy operations. “The increasing level of attacks and violence in the gulf of Guinea have given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region very damaging and negative image,” he told Nigeria’s The Cable. “The major component of this bill is the creation of the maritime security fund . . . that will empower the Navy to secure our waters as part of its primary responsibility.”

Posted August 4, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Philippine Forces Hunt Terrorists at Sea   1 comment

suluSulu Sea (Image credit Noel Tarrazona)

By Noel Tarrazona

As fighting between terrorists and government forces in Mindanao continues, the Philippine government has rolled out countermeasures to prevent the escape of members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group via maritime routes. Manila has announced two major maritime security initiatives to prevent ISIS-inspired militants from fleeing to neighboring islands near the Malaysian and Indonesian borders.

Making its first move, the Philippine government signed a maritime security agreement with Indonesia and Malaysia to hold joint trilateral naval patrols in the Philippine-Malaysia-Indonesia maritime border area.

Under the joint naval collaborative program, called Indomaphil, the three nations agreed that their naval assets will be allowed to enter any of the three countries’ maritime territory when pursuing terrorist suspects. In a joint statement, the three nations said that “the collaboration is to prevent extremists from making Southeast Asia or any country a base for their operations.”

The Philippine military says that the terrorists in Marawi are not only Filipinos. Some of them were reported to be nationals from Malaysia, Indonesia and Middle East. Defense officials say that one of the challenges of fighting terror in Southeast Asia is that the terrorists can move to three different countries in less than 24 hours.

Domestic Strategy

Aside from the ASEAN collaboration,  the Philippine government  is also intensifying security measures in Philippine ports to thwart terror attacks from the local terrorist group.

The demand for intense security developed when three members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group attempted to use seaports for their escape. With close monitoring and intensified port security, the three suspects were arrested in the port of Iloilo, Panay on board a ship arriving from Mindanao. The Philippine Coast Guard alerted the sea marshall upon receiving intelligence reports that suspected terrorists were on board the ship and the suspects were eventually caught.

Commodore Joel Garcia, officer-in-charge of the PCG attributed the success of the arrested suspects to the vigilance of shipping companies. “Security will always be dependent on the cooperation of shipping companies to the Coast Guard,” Garcia told Philippine journalists.

While countermeasures to prevent terrorist violence on the sea are already in place, the Coast Guard will also be deploying manpower in tourist beach resorts that could be a potential target of terrorists’ kidnapping and bombing attacks.

But despite the intensified security measures on the Philippine-Malaysia-Indonesia border, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP) has warned shipowners to reroute their vessels to avoid identified threats in the region.

ReCAAP was referring to the Sulu and Celebes seas, where two Vietnamese sailors were abducted and later beheaded by suspected terrorists after the victims’ families failed to deliver a ransom. ReCAAP reports that about 59 crew members have been abducted in the Sulu Celebes seas and the Malaysian border of Eastern Sabah since last year, and the abductors have been reported to demand huge ransoms for the release of their captives. The Asian media report that the same abductors have raked in at least $12 million from their maritime kidnapping and extortion activities in the region.

Posted July 27, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

CNN Exclusive: Somali pirate kings are under investigation for helping ISIS and al-Shabaab   Leave a comment

(CNN)In the vital transport corridors of the troubled Gulf of Aden, an old but dangerous adversary has returned to the seas — pirates.
But they may not be acting alone.
Four years since piracy attacks reached their peak, CNN sources have found threats on Somali waters are broader than ever.

Pirate kingpins

CNN has learned that the United Nations and the United States are investigating at least two pirate kingpins for providing material support to terror groups.
That material support includes helping factions of the two terror groups, al Qaeda linked al-Shabaab and Somalia’s ISIS faction, who ironically despise each other, smuggle weapons and perhaps even people across the Gulf of Aden.
One of them is Mohamed Garfanje, the kingpin of the Hobyo-Haradhere Piracy Network, which thrived in the tiny fishing village of Haradhere — often considered the birthplace of modern Somali piracy.
Garfanje is also one of the main suspects wanted for the kidnapping of American-German journalist Michael Scott Moore in 2012.
Mohamed Garfanje

Moore tells CNN he met Garfanje during the harrowing two years and a half he spent as an hostage.
According to three sources CNN has spoken to, Garfanje is believed to have helped al-Shabaab smuggle weapons and ammunition into Somalia.
He is also still carrying out pirate attacks, according to leading piracy watchdog organization, Oceans Beyond Piracy.
“Garfanje should be in jail,” Moore said. “If it’s true that he and Bakeyle (another pirate) are out catching ships again, then they should be rounded up by authorities and prosecuted.”
Another pirate kingpin, whom CNN is not naming, is believed to have been smuggling arms and people to ISIS’ small but worrisome faction in Somalia, based in Qandala, in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, according to UN and US sources.
UN sources say he has assisted ISIS with logistics and has a relationship with Abdulkadir Mumin, the leader of ISIS in Somalia.
Oceans Beyond Piracy researchers believe he is behind some of the recent piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

Piracy spikes and US response

The Gulf of Aden off Somalia has been plagued by crimes at sea for years. It has been destabilized by a devastating, decades-long civil war on land.
After a four-year lull, more than 12 maritime piracy attacks have occurred off the coast of Somalia so far this year, according to this report by Oceans Beyond Piracy.
The recent pirate attacks have attracted comment from the US military. During US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ visit to the US base in Djibouti, he spoke on the rise in piracy in the region.
Mattis told reporters that the US military was monitoring the situation, but he added that he didn’t see the US playing a “big military role.”
This could change if those pirates are proven to be substantially aiding terrorists, says Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that has provided policy recommendations to President Donald Trump’s administration.
Meservey told CNN that the US would have an incentive to disrupt the pirate networks if it “gains conclusive evidence that pirates are actively helping al-Shabaab, such as by smuggling weapons to them.”
Jason Warner a professor at the US Military Academy, West Point, in the academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, told CNN: “At the very worst, there is active collusion; at the very least Shabaab gets a cut of the money from pirates emanating from Shabaab-held ground. There have also been instances of Shabaab taxing the pirates.”
“With the current trends indicating that piracy is once again picking up off the Horn of Africa, these relationships between pirates and Shabaab will likely re-emerge as an important flashpoint,” Warner said.
“I think Trump does care about Somalia,” said Meservey. “He is clearly focused on terror threats, and al-Shabaab remains an effective, active terrorist organization.
“It also once attracted dozens of Americans to join it, and the fear is that it could do so again. I think the trend that began under Obama towards a more active military role in Somalia will continue with Trump,” he added.
edition.cnn.com

Posted July 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Industry Group Launches Cyber Security Guidelines   1 comment

cyber
 

By MarEx 

The second edition of The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships has been released, compiled by a joint industry group led by BIMCO.

The second edition includes information on insurance issues and how to effectively segregate networks, as well as new practical advice on managing the ship to shore interface and how to handle cyber security during port calls and when communicating with the shore side.

The chapters on “contingency planning” and “responding to and recovering from cyber incidents” have been rewritten to reflect the fact that the guidelines are aimed specifically at ships and the remote conditions prevailing if a ship’s defenses have been breached.

The guidelines have also been aligned with the recommendations given in the IMO’s guidelines on cyber risk management which were adopted in June 2017.

A new subchapter on insurance has been added, looking at coverage after a cyber incident as this is an important part of the risk assessment which shipowners should now take into consideration. Finally, the Annex, which explains about networks, has been rewritten based on real experience of shipowners segregating networks on their ships.

The joint industry working group members are: BIMCO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), International Union of Maritime Insurance (IUMI) and Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

The Guidelines are available here.

Posted July 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Two Vietnamese Seafarers Beheaded   1 comment

Basilan Basilan, the Philippines
 

By Noel Tarrazona

Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan sent a message to the Philippine government when they beheaded two abducted Vietnamese seafarers from the bulk carrier ship MV Royal 16.

Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai were among the six Vietnamese seafarers abducted by Abu Sayyaf pirates on November 11, last year, in the vicinity of Sibago Island. A third seafarer Hoang Vo, 28, escaped from the custody of his captors and was successfully rescued by Philippine soldiers patrolling Sampini village in Sumisip municipality.

The beheaded bodies of Thong and Hai will undergo joint forensic examination to be administered by representatives of the Vietnam Embassy in Manila and forensic experts from the Philippines.

Three more Vietnamese seafarers from the MV Royal 16 are still held captive by the Abu Sayyaf pirates. They are Pham Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu and Tran Khac Dung.

The beheaded bodies were recovered in Sumisip town in Basilan, and the military explained to the public that it was the Abu Sayyaf’s last ditch effort to show that they are still strong at a time when the 10,000 soldiers deployed in Basilan are nearing their main stronghold.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told Philippine journalists that their act was a form of propaganda because of the pressure they are experiencing.

The Philippine military earlier reported that as a result of their efforts, 97 Abu Sayyaf members, including their leaders, have been killed in a series of gun battles with Philippine soldiers in Basilan and Sulu since January 2017.

Among the leaders killed were Abu Misaya and Abu Rami who led a series of maritime abductions of sailors on board commercial ships in the Sulu Sea over the last five years. They were reported to rake at least $12 million in ransom money from their piracy and other clandestine activities.

The on-going battle against Abu Sayaf in Marawi City has already seen the death of 303 militants and 82 military personnel, while 44 bodies, believed to be civilians, have also been recovered in the battle zone. The conflict is expected to end soon, and the Philippine military believes that some of the terrorists who arrived from neighboring countries to augment Philippine terrorist ranks will return to their home countries. These are believed to include Malaysians, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Middle East nationals who earlier joined the local terrorist group to raid Marawi City.

The Philippines and Vietnamese governments have held meetings to arrange joint maritime security patrols, but the discussion have not yet reached a substantive deal. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have already started their joint maritime security patrols along their borders including in the Sulu Sea. The governments have been collaborating to secure their maritime borders because of confirmed reports that ISIS fighters from the Middle East might look at Southeast Asia as their next major destination.

The Sulu Sea has been described as the Somalia of Southeast Asia because of the growing number of piracy incidents in the region.

Posted July 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS