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Obama Vows to fight piracy after captains rescue. (AP)

Posted by Enkill_Eridos on April 14, 2009

This image provided by the U.S. Navy taken from video made with an unmanned AP – This image provided by the U.S. Navy taken from video made with an unmanned aerial vehicle, shows a 28-foot …

MOMBASA, Kenya – President Barack Obama vowed Monday “to halt the rise of piracy,” while shipmates of the rescued American freighter captain called for tough action against Somali bandits who are preying on one of the world’s busiest sea routes.

Obama appeared to move up the piracy issue on his agenda, saying the United States would work with nations elsewhere in the world.

“I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks,” Obama said at a Washington news conference.

The nighttime rescue operation of Richard Phillips won praise abroad but it was uncertain how far Obama wanted to go to engage the pirates.

The U.S. was considering options including adding Navy gunships along the Somali coastline and launching a campaign to disable pirate “mother ships,” according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.

Some military strategists believe it may ultimately be necessary to attack the pirates’ bases on land in Somalia. But few international allies have the appetite for another land operation in Somalia, where a U.S. military foray in the early 1990s ended in humiliation. And the cost in civilian casualties would likely be extremely high, some warn.

“That would be nuts,” said Larry Johnson, a former CIA agent and State Department counterterrorism specialist. “These people are not organized into any military force, they are intermingled with women and children. You’re talking about wiping out villages.”

The chief mate aboard the US-flagged Maersk Alabama was among those urging strong U.S. action.

“It’s time for us to step in and put an end to this crisis,” Shane Murphy said. “It’s a crisis. Wake up.”

In Burlington, Vt., Phillips’ wife, Andrea Phillips made a tearful public appearance, her first since the Sunday rescue of her husband. She thanked Obama, who approved the dramatic sniper operation that killed the pirates holding him.

“You have no idea, but with Richard saved, you all just gave me the best Easter ever,” she said in a statement read by the family’s spokeswoman.

On the other side of the world, the 19 crew members on the Alabama celebrated their skipper’s freedom with beer and an evening barbecue in an area cordoned off from journalists, said crewman Ken Quinn, who ventured out holding a Tusker beer — a popular brew in Kenya, where the ship was docked.

On Tuesday morning, the crew left the cargo ship and checked into a hotel in the Kenyan resort city of Mombasa. It was not immediately clear how long the crew was planning to stay. Some crew have said they would return home soon, probably by air.

New details emerged Monday about the standoff.

Fearing the pirates’ lifeboat was approaching the Somali shore, where they could escape, the Bainbridge rammed it back out toward sea, said a spokesman for Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. That happened before the Bainbridge put a tow line on the lifeboat to help it navigate the choppy sea.

The four pirates that attacked the Alabama were between 17 and 19 years old, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

“Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,” Gates told a group of students and faculty at the Marine Corps War College. “Everybody in the room knows the consequences of that.”

U.S. officials were now considering whether to bring the fourth pirate, who surrendered shortly before the sniper shootings, to the United States or possibly turn him over to Kenya. If he is brought to the U.S., he’d most likely be put on trial in New York or Washington.

Both piracy and hostage-taking carry life prison sentences under U.S. law.

That pirate had surrendered to seek medical attention. He was stabbed with an ice pick during a scuffle with the crew when the pirates initially tried to overtake the Alabama, a senior military official said.

The American ship had been carrying food aid bound for Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda when the ordeal began Wednesday hundreds of miles off Somalia’s eastern coast. As the pirates clambered aboard and shot in the air, Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men.

Phillips was then taken hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was soon shadowed by three U.S. warships and a helicopter. Navy SEAL snipers parachuted from their aircraft into the sea, and were picked up by the USS Bainbridge, a senior U.S. official said.

U.S. Defense officials said snipers got the go-ahead to fire after one pirate held an AK-47 close to Phillips’ back. The military officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

Snipers killed three pirates with single shots shortly after sailors on the Bainbridge saw the hostage-takers “with their heads and shoulders exposed,” Gortney said.

It was not immediately known when or how Phillips would return home.

Pirates hold some 230 foreign sailors still held hostage in more than a dozen ships anchored off lawless Somalia.

Vilma de Guzman worried about her husband, one of 23 Filipino sailors held hostage since Nov. 10 on the chemical tanker MT Stolt Strength.

“The pirates might vent their anger on them,” she said. “Those released are lucky, but what about those who remain captive?”


Jelinek reported from Washington. Associated Press writers who contributed to this report include Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu, Somalia; Michelle Faul, Malkhadir M. Muhumed and Tom Maliti in Kenya; Lara Jakes, Anne Gearan and Devlin Barrett in Washington; and John Curran in Burlington, Vt.


This was taken from the Associated Press website but I feel I need to make my own synopsis because I do not believe in copy and pasting and not adding my own spin on things. For one I must applaud Pres. Obama in his actions because I believe this piracy is a much bigger threat than what is in Iraq. Terrorism comes in all forms and now the Navy can actually do thier jobs instead of leaving the Army to do it for them..(just kidding.) The kid surrended to the united states and face international charges between a joint international court. But his sentence should be served in America, lets face it he is a kid and the kids of Africa just do not sign up to fight on thier own. Some do but most do not, even though putting him in the hardest of the hard prisons in America would be like sending him to a resort compared to being “free” in Africa. I just would not trust the Kenyan prision system to be able to hold the kid.


12 Responses to “Obama Vows to fight piracy after captains rescue. (AP)”

  1. Amitabh said

    You said, “even though putting him in the hardest of the hard prisons in America would be like sending him to a resort compared to being “free” in Africa…”

    Pretty strong statement that!
    This is a perspective which many in Africa (and elsewhere in world) would claim to be typically American and exactly the sentiments that cause the people in other countries to dislike Americans, don’t you think?

    I am neither from Africa nor an American. So, perhaps I should not speak in favour or against that statement of yours, but I would prefer freedom. Any day.

    This is your blog and I respect your right to air your views in here. I just thought I should air mine, without any malice.


  2. dorian9 said

    hello amitabh thanks for stopping by!
    i’m sure the previous post on scott peterson’s not-so-bad prison accommodations might have something to do with the sentiment.
    but if i were to choose it would be freedom as well.
    we all have our ugly american in us but we’re good guys for the most part.
    your trip to Mamallapuram is bringing out the travel envy in me. i liked the pictures , especially of the roast dosa. the hammock under the coconut trees? i’m sure they took the coconuts down because one of those things falling down on the head could be the end of you, eh?


  3. dorian9 said

    good post e_e. you’re good about adding your own voice to the cut and paste portions. i’ll try and not be lazy and go beyond just adding my own headings on the news items..


  4. I have visited Kenya when I was in the military because I went to A school with some Kenyan army personel. To give you a picture on how bad it was, the Kenyan military issued me a weapon for when I went to go sight seeing just in Kenya. Life is harsh in Africa, I have seen it and heard from the people that live or lived there how harsh it really is in Africa. Let’s face it an American prison gives you three square meals and a roof over his head guaranteed. Since the kid was into piracy I have to surmise getting one meal is tough and the roof what ever he can find. I was not talking out of ignorance I was talking from personal experience. I have never been an inmate in a prison so I can only surmise to the stories I have heard about prison. But given the choice of being free and going hungry or paying for crimes I have commited and not go hungry I would choose the latter. And many people break the law to get sent to jail because of whatever reason, but they do it to get a roof over their head and three squares.


  5. Amitabh said

    @Enkill_Eridos, I am sure you meant well. It is just that I cannot imagine living in a prison. I must be claustrophobic!

    @Dorian9, you surprise me. You actually liked the roast dosa! It is delicious, I can confirm. So, when you plan for a trip to South of India, give me a (digital) shout. Let me see what I can do for you.


  6. Anonymous said

    hey amitabh, i’m a foodie. i love watching the food channel and the travel channel with anthony bourdain and andrew zimmern. i don’t remember seeing those two going to southern india yet. btw, i like your blog a lot..


  7. dorian9 said

    anonymous was me, forgot to login!


  8. Hey Amitabh I know it doesnt seem like anyone would choose prison over freedom but sometimes you have to do what you can. And South of India has some really good food dishes, i love curry dishes and I ate some of the best curry dishes there.


  9. dorian9 said

    guys – the pirates are back and they’re pissed. i think we should send captain bligh after them.


  10. Charlie said

    tothewire.wordpress.com – da best. Keep it going!


  11. Amitabh said

    @Dorian9, I prefer Phantom.
    Click on my name (above) to see why?
    The root cause of these sea pirates lie in the land, Somalia, by the way.

    @Enkill_Eridos, you have actually visited the South of India! Great. I am still discovering it. I plan to visit Kodaikanal (a hill station in Tamil Nadu) soon. Did you know that this is the only hill station in India established by Americans?


  12. Yes, I went there on leave once just to visit it. Beautiful place.


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