Archive for July 2017

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

European Shipowners Call States to Action on Piracy   1 comment

piracyfile photo

By MarEx 

European shipowners have called on governments to do more to prevent the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, most particularly off Nigeria.

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) says that according to the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy report, 33 vessels were boarded and four fired upon in the first three months of 2017 worldwide. During the same period, of the 27 seafarers kidnapped for ransom, 63 percent were in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau data, there was a noticeable increase in the number of reported incidents off Nigeria in 2016 (36 compared to 14 in 2015). There were 54 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

In its Global Maritime Security Conclusions adopted 19 June, the E.U. Environment Council recognized the problematic situation in the Gulf of Guinea and underlined the need for regional states to take ownership and adapt their legal systems in order to fight piracy.

ECSA would like to see several measures taken including proper protection by coastal states, investigation of the potential use of private maritime security guards by shipowners and the establishment of effective judicial systems.

National coastal states should ensure safety and security at anchoring places, transfer places and coastal waters. As the use of armed guards in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea littoral states is not permitted due to national legal restrictions, initiatives should be undertaken to explore possibilities for the conclusion of an agreement between the E.U. and its member states with the Gulf of Guinea littoral states aiming at the permission of the use of private security guards by E.U.-flagged vessels calling at their ports.

Piracy and armed robbery should be recognized as crimes and prosecuted. Supporting effective judicial systems need to be in place, and the E.U. could, in cooperation with the United Nations of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), assist the countries in developing national legislation against piracy.

Information sharing and transparency about the situation in the maritime security domain should be available through trusted reporting centers.

An efficient and well working reporting and coordination system to respond to incidents is also required. Initiatives could focus on providing technical assistance in areas such as ship maintenance and repair and through sharing of best practices. One such example is the launch and implementation of the Gulf of Guinea  Inter-regional Network (GoGIN), as it aims to facilitate the cooperation between the 19 Gulf of Guinea coastal countries by setting up an effective and technically efficient network for the exchange of information and further coordination.

ECSA also encourages E.U. member states to actively contribute to the maritime security outside the territorial waters in cooperation with regional states and coordinate the deployment of naval vessels.

Posted July 2, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Ship Explodes Off Somalia   1 comment

explosionfile photo

By MarEx 

An explosion has been heard off the coast of Somalia which observers say could have come from a foreign naval vessel.

Flames and smoke were also seen off Somalia’s Puntland coast around sunset on Monday.

The ship is believed to have been a naval vessel, as two foreign navy ships  helped rescue the crew. The cause of the blast is unknown as is the state of damage on the vessel, which may have sunk.

Abdi Jama, a resident of Muranyo village near Alula, told Reuters the vessel had been in the area for two days before the explosion occurred. He claims to have seen a helicopter land and take off again from the vessel some time before the explosion.

The region, near Alula in Puntland, is frequently patrolled by the European Union Naval forces to disrupt piracy and protect vulnerable shipping, including World Food Program vessels.

However, one media outlet has hypothesized that the explosion may have been from the tanker Rama 2. One of the 14 crew remains missing.

EUNAVFOR has tweeted that its vessels are not involved.

Posted July 2, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS