February 19, 2011

Americans Believed Kidnapped by Somali Pirates

AFP:

MOGADISHU — Somali pirates who hijacked a yacht believed to have Americans onboard were expected to bring the boat back to their main base of Hobyo, a senior pirate commander told AFP Saturday.

According to Ecoterra International, a non-governmental organisation monitoring maritime activity in the region, pirates hijacked the S/V Quest with four Americans onboard Friday in the Indian Ocean.

Abdi Yare, a top pirate commander in Hobyo, 500 kilometres (300 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu, said the boarding squad that captured the yacht left a week earlier from Harardhere, another pirate base further south.
"The pirate team that hijacked the yacht is led by a senior commander from the Harardhere area," he said.

"I think they will bring them (the hostages) here, near Hobyo, to negotiate the ransom," Yare added.

Harardhere, located around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Hobyo is where modern Somali piracy originated in 2003-2004.

The town was conquered by the Shebab, an Al Qaeda-inspired insurgent group which is officially opposed to piracy but has recently appeared to tolerate pirate activity on its territory in exchange for a cut of the ransoms.

A dispute broke out in recent days between the Shebab and the main "investors" who finance pirate raids and hijackings in exchange for a stake in the ransoms.

Update

Here is a picture of the S.V. Quest.

squest.jpg

She is owned by a couple identified as Jean and Scott Adam.

Much more here including the couple's image here.

The Adams writes on their website “Another aspect of our travels is friendship evangelism – that is, finding homes for thousands of Bibles.” The Adams detail their travels from Mexico to the South Pacific, and list their yacht the S/V Quest registered to Marina Del Rey. “We were so unhappy being ‘dirt dwellers’ during our time in the States that another floating abode had to be acquired,” Jean Adam write on their website.

But the couple have not updated the website since December 21 last year.

Andrew Mwangura, the maritime editor of Somalia Report, tells the New York Times that the couple were intercepted roughly three hundred miles off of Oman. They had sent out an SOS which unfortunately was intercepted by the pirates.

This could turn very badly if this couple are indeed evangelists. The radical al-Shabaab is known to believe in the death penalty for proselytizing to Muslims. If she is carrying Bibles its very likely that would be interpreted badly by any Sharia court.

I've no word as yet on the identity of the other two people aboard.

More here at MSNBC and the couple's blog is here

By Howie at 06:10 PM | Comments |