March 16, 2005

Pirates Sieze Two Japanese Hostages

Yes, you heard that right, pirates. What is missing from this report is that the 'pirates' are often GAM rebels who wish to set up an Islamist state in Indonesia's Northern Aceh province. Money from piracy is used to fund the insurgency in the same way that hostages and drugs are used elsewhere.


Armed pirates have kidnapped two Japanese and a Filipino from a tugboat in the Malacca Strait. The pirates struck on Monday night and seized money and documents from the Japanese-registered boat.

Indonesia sent three navy ships to the area, though officials said the pirates could now be in Malaysian waters.

The attack followed a raid by 35 pirates, armed with rocket launchers, who boarded an Indonesian-owned tanker on Saturday and took two hostages.

And check out the upside to last December's tsunamai:
Some 37 acts of piracy were recorded there last year but there has been a sharp fall in reported attacks after December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Some experts said the disaster could have killed many pirates and destroyed their boats, while others believed the presence of international troops in the region deterred attacks.

The Jakarta government, of course, is also suspicious that GAM is behind the hostage taking. Jakarta Post:
Indonesian separatist rebels may have carried out the armed attack on a Japanese tugboat in the Malacca Strait and the kidnapping of three crewmen, Malaysia's marine police said Wednesday.

"The pirates are from Indonesia. They may be GAM rebels. I will not rule it out," Mokhtar Othman, operations officer for Malaysia's northern region marine police, told AFP.

Mokhtar said the fact the pirates were well armed and "had something like a rocket launcher" pointed to the involvement of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels, who since 1976 have been waging a revolt in the north of Sumatra island.

And the thugs have done this before. Xinhua:
The attack is believed to be the work of the same pirates who preyed on two other vessels in the Straits of Malacca over the past two weeks.

The incidents also happened in roughly the same area which is only about 20 nautical miles off the maritime borders of Indonesia and Malaysia, enabling them to make quick get-aways.

Last Saturday, 35 pirates armed with machine guns and rocket launchers stormed a tanker which was on its way from Samirinda in Kalimantan to Belawan in Sumatra. The captain and chief engineer were abducted.

On March 2, four men in a fishing boat kidnapped a tugboat captain and his Indonesian chief officer.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:52 AM | Comments |