Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Claims of pirates smuggling al-Qaeda into Somalia are fishy

Somali pirates are smuggling al-Qaeda operatives into Somalia to aid the Islamic fundamentalist group al-Shabab, according to an announcement by that nation's first deputy prime minister, Professor Adan Ibrahim.

Although an al-Qaeda-pirate connection would be worrisome, this claim sounds pretty fishy. A few reasons:
  • al-Shabab controls much of Somalia and is pushing to topple the government. That gives the government a really good incentive to wave its hands and claim that al-Qaeda is flooding the country. That information would certainly get the West's attention, and perhaps its money/help to keep the government in power
  • an Islamic government ruthlessly shut down piracy in Somalia when it was last in power in Somalia. No reason to think that Shabab would necessarily be different
  • bringing al-Qaeda into Somalia would be bad for the pirate business because al-Qaeda would attract the West's attention and firepower
I don't doubt that Somalia is an attractive place for al-Qaeda to set up shop, and al-Shabab provides them with an entree. But I'd bet the pirates aren't so eager to see that happen.

Thus my earlier posts that the pirates, in fact, could be natural allies in resisting Islamic fundamentalism and al-Qaeda in Somalia. Not that this would be the most savory alliance in the world, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend. At least, for now.

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