Lord Jopling, who also wrote a report into money laundering and terrorism for the House of Lords, has warned that paying off pirates could encourage terrorist groups into further acts of piracy.
His comments come after the demand for $7m (£4.2m) for the safe return of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple taken hostage nine days ago as they travelled from the Seychelles to Tanzania. Almost 300 pirate attacks were logged worldwide in 2008 alone.
At present, British law allows ship owners to pay ransoms for the release of hijacked vessels. But if the government established a link between the pirates and terrorist groups, the payment of ransoms would be considered as funding terrorism and be banned by law.
Jopling, the author of the Nato report The Growing Threat Of Piracy, said that many people suspect terrorist groups are behind the capture of dozens of ships off the Horn of Africa. He called on the government to put "more effort" into finding out whether there is a link to terrorism. "There is as yet no evidence that money goes to terrorists, but given all of the rumours that al-Qaida has active cells in Somalia, it would not be of huge surprise if there is a connection there. We will not find out until the government takes the initiative with other interested states to find out and look at the magnitude of the sums involved and where the money is going. It is of concern."..more..http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/01/pirate-ransoms-could-fund-terrorists
High seas shootout kills two off Somalia
MOGADISHU — Two fishermen were killed and three others wounded in an apparent shooting incident involving a foreign warship off the northeastern coast of Somalia, Somali officials said Sunday.The incident happened shortly after midnight (2200 GMT Saturday) when three fishing boats were stopped and questioned at sea, the officials said.The dead men were Somali and Yemeni nationals, they said. The incident happened off the coast of Alula in Puntland.The governor of Puntland’s Bari province, Muse Gele Farole, said French forces were involved.“The French forces opened fire on fishermen onboard a fishing boat. A Yemeni sailor and a Somali died and three others were injured, including two Yemenis,” the governor told AFP.The chiefs of staff of the French armed forces denied any French involvement, while a spokesman for the EU’s anti-piracy force Atalanta said none of its ships were involved.“No forces from the EU naval force were involved in any incident like this”.He said nothing had been reported “either from the French side or from the other nations involved in EU-NAVFOR”.Said Muse, the deputy commander of security forces in Alula, told AFP by phone the fishing vessels were approached by two speed boats.“The wounded told us they were French forces who carried out the attack, but we are not sure yet,” he said.“We have collected the wounded and the dead bodies this morning from the area and we are burying the body of the dead Somali now. The Yemenis took the dead sailor to their country hours ago,” said Muse, speaking by phone from a village some 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from the incident.French tuna trawlers operating in the region have French