News / Africa

American Cases Highlight Piracy Risks in Africa

FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
Pamela Dockins
Two cases this week involving American piracy victims in Africa have highlighted the maritime dangers in the region. However, maritime experts say there are significant differences in the causes and response to piracy off the coast of Somalia and incidents in the troubled Gulf of Guinea, near Nigeria.
 
A judge in Norfolk, Virginia has ordered Somali national Ahmed Muse Salad to serve 19 consecutive life sentences for his role in the 2011 murders of four Americans.
 
Salad was among a group of Somali pirates who boarded a yacht carrying its American owners and two crew members off Africa's east coast. The four Americans were shot and killed after negotiations with the U.S. navy broke down.
 
In another case, the State Department said two Americans who were kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria's coast last month have been freed. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed their release, but provided few details.
 
"For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information on the two individuals or the circumstances of their release," said Psaki.
 
The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center reports that the overall number of piracy attacks near Somalia has dropped over the past year, largely due to increased naval patrols.
 
There were 11 reported incidents of piracy near Somalia, including two hijackings, between January and October of this year.
 
Around the waters of Nigeria, there were 30 reported incidents in the same period, including two hijackings.
 
James Bridger, a maritime security consultant with Delex Systems, said that what is often referred to as piracy near Nigeria is actually an extension of criminal behavior on shore.
 
“In the Gulf of Guinea as a whole it is, at its lowest level, it is simply robbing ships at anchor, at berth. That’s a really opportunistic affair. You also have kidnap for ransom both on land and at sea,” explained Bridger.
 
Bridger pointed out that many of the security measures that have been effective in curbing piracy off Somalia's coast do not exist in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
"For one, armed guards are not allowed inside of the territorial waters of Nigeria in particular, or really any state in West Africa. You can have armed guards outside of the 12 miles, [the] 12 nautical mile territorial limit, but as soon as they go inside, their weapons have to be under lock and key. And, if they are going into Nigeria, which is the most dangerous, they can’t have weapons at all," said Bridger.
 
Bridger said one of the few options for shipping companies in the region is to "rent" Nigerian security personnel.
 
Kevin Krick, the Senior Director of Security and Environment for APL, a global transportation company that does shipping in regions including Africa, notes that the extra security measures have a financial impact.
 
"It means we need to take additional measures to ensure that our vessels are safeguarded. So, there is a cost involved," said Krick.  
 
Krick said that his company is grateful for the naval counter-piracy measures that have been put in place to protect maritime commerce, which he says is a "life-blood" for industry.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid