Somali Pirates Form Unholy Alliance with Islamists

[Der Spiegel-Germany] Intelligence agencies are alarmed at the Somali pirates' increasingly close ties to Islamist groups. Intelligence agencies have managed to deeply penetrate the pirate clans and have inside information about the bosses, arms caches, alliances and arrangements. Until recently, the pirates and Islamists have been mortal enemies. When fighters loyal to the radical Council of Islamic Courts seized power in Somalia in 2006, they immediately put the pirates out of business. Half a year later, an invading army from U.S.-backed neighboring Ethiopia swept aside the Islamists - and the pirates quickly headed out to sea again in search of new booty. Today, the pirates want money and the Islamists want power. The pirates are "mujahideen because they are at war with the Christian countries," says Sheikh Hassan Turki, the leader of Hizbul Islam. Mukhtar Robow of the al-Shabab militias says the pirates are defending "the coast against Allah's enemies." The pirates smuggle weapons for the Islamists including, last October, ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns - weapons that could make life extremely difficult for Western helicopter pilots.

2009-04-23 06:00:00

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