EU pays “millions” in ransom to Somali pirates

posted at 1:43 pm on August 3, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Domestic issues have grabbed the spotlight in the US since the US Navy ended a standoff in April with a few well-placed shots that freed an American merchant-marine captain from the clutches of Somali pirates.  The pirates have continued operating in the Gulf of Aden, though, thanks to the catch-and-release policies of NATO and Western nations in general.  Apparently not willing to be outdone, the EU has quarterbacked a ransom payment worth “millions” in exchange for a European crew held hostage by Somali pirates for the last several months:

There’s new hope for the crew of the hijacked German-owned ship, the Hansa Stavanger. This Monday a ransom of millions was handed over to the pirates holding the ship off the coast of Somalia — the pirates have been holding the freighter, owned by Hamburg shipping firm, Leonhardt and Blumberg, for several months now.

A spokesperson for the European Union counter-piracy operation, Operation Atalanta, which has several warships patrolling the pirate-infested area, confirmed the ransom transfer. “The money is on board and the pirates are counting it,” the spokesperson told SPIEGEL ONLINE, although he would not elaborate further.

Through sources close to German intelligence agencies and local sourcees, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that a small plane was used to throw a package containing $2.75 million (€ 1.9 million) worth of ransom onto the Hansa Stavanger. It is hoped that when the money has been counted the ship and the crewwill be set free. Whether that will still happen on Monday is uncertain although the security authorities estimate a release should happen within 24 hours.

The Hansa Stavanger was captured at roughly the same time as the Maersk Alabama, but the outcomes could not be more different.  The US used negotiations to put the military options in play and killed the pirates for their refusal to surrender.  The EU has tried negotiating for four months, apparently haggling over the price the pirates would accept for the release of the hostages.

Western nations have a public policy against negotiating with terrorists, because giving concessions leads to more terrorism.  The same holds true for piracy, maybe even more so.  The payments of ransom, especially in the millions, provides a huge incentive not just for the existing pirates but for those in the Horn of Africa region dealing with poverty and oppression.  The cash influx will draw more recruits to piracy just as political concessions attract terrorist recruits who see the strategies employed by terror networks succeed.

We have seen that Western nations have the resources and wherewithal to deal forcefully with Somali pirates, but mostly lack the commitment to pull the trigger, literally.  Barack Obama did, but the rest of the West seems intent on applying a legal standard that simply doesn’t work in international waters.  Piracy is not a crime on par with robbery or kidnapping on land, just as terrorism isn’t the same thing as arson or murder.  Piracy exists to exploit the gaps in sovereignty; it acts as a parasite on international shipping for that reason.  The only real solution to it is military, a lesson the world learned in the 19th century but seems to have forgotten in the 21st.

Hopefully, the Hansa Stavanger crew will return unharmed.  Unfortunately, that ransom will fuel dozens of acts of piracy in the future.


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Hey, how much for that noose over there?

Vashta.Nerada on August 3, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Jobs saved, with new ones being created. Positive reinforcement works.

ICBM on August 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

You get what you subsidize.

Blaise on August 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Eunuchs.

Daddy-O on August 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Too bad. With those millions they could’ve hired a mecenary force to take the pirates out … or at least severely reduce their numbers.

darwin on August 3, 2009 at 1:49 PM

When crime pays, there will be more crime.

jwolf on August 3, 2009 at 1:49 PM

If you are going to pay ransom to separate the pirates from the hostages, make sure you kill all the pirates afterward.

Count to 10 on August 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM

There is a new bomb being developed, the MOP GBU-57A/B, that is a third more powerful than the MOAB.

Seems as if a certain bit of Somali coastline would be an excellent location to test the MOP in a surface burst configuration.

Bishop on August 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Can we admit that Europe is a lost cause and move on?

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Domestic issues have grabbed the spotlight in the US since the US Navy ended a standoff in April with a few well-placed shots that freed an American merchant-marine captain from the clutches of Somali pirates.

Wait…wait…I thought Obama personally ended that standoff?

PBoilermaker on August 3, 2009 at 1:54 PM

gatorboy on August 3, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Why are all the pirates white in the video? It’s like a freaking Brinks commercial.

Monica on August 3, 2009 at 1:54 PM

EU are suckers…

cmsinaz on August 3, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Why are all the pirates white in the video? It’s like a freaking Brinks commercial.

Monica on August 3, 2009 at 1:54 PM

As I said a few days ago on another thread, I am SO glad I am not the only one who noticed those Brinks/Broadview commercials for the racist crap they are.

PBoilermaker on August 3, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Silly EU. American taxpayers bring these terrorists to
our shores, and give them special treatment.

We give 900 million to Hamas, the same
Hamas that want our heads.

We apparently gave 9billion to New Zealand,
who knows what that was for. And let’s not
forget several other European countries.

nondhimmie on August 3, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Great! Now that the EU has paid off the pirates, there will never again be another case of piracy! /sarc

rmgraha on August 3, 2009 at 1:59 PM

1. Why don’t the companies hire security guards for every boat (if they can afford giving out ransoms, you’d think they would be able to afford security).

2. Why don’t they invest in some drones (with every state being involved) to take out these pirates?

3. Why don’t they teach the boat employees how to use weapons, and take on the pirates.

4. Boat dogs?

DanStark on August 3, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Cowards

apoole on August 3, 2009 at 2:00 PM

I say stop subsidizing Europe (yes, we are ultimately part of paying for this). Make them boost their military. Maybe, they’ll learn to stop paying pirates off…

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 2:02 PM

There’s new hope for the crew of the hijacked German-owned ship, the Hansa Stavanger.

But no hope for the next ship’s crew.

davidk on August 3, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Pirates need a stimulus package too, you meanies.

Mr. Bingley on August 3, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Just like during Thomas Jefferson’s day!

History repeats itself!

TexasDude on August 3, 2009 at 2:05 PM

I say stop subsidizing Europe (yes, we are ultimately part of paying for this). Make them boost their military. Maybe, they’ll learn to stop paying pirates off…

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 2:02 PM

They can’t afford to build their military, all their money is tied up in super awesome cash-saving, life-extending socialized medicine and subsidizing their failing society.

Monica on August 3, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Why do so many Westerners lack the most basic understanding of human nature and motivation?

Credit where due to the President for pulling the trigger.

jazz_piano on August 3, 2009 at 2:08 PM

They can’t afford to build their military, all their money is tied up in super awesome cash-saving, life-extending socialized medicine and subsidizing their failing society.

Monica on August 3, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Is it really life-extending? ;)

You nailed it. I still let them build up their military or be owned by the Russians.

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Needless to say, the EU is run by a bunch of pansies. And make no mistake — despite reportedly “giving the OK” for our guys to perforate the brain cavities of the Somalis, Obama is a fellow traveler to the EU pukes, and next time they capture a ship with Americans on it I give you 4 to 1 odds that he pays the ransom.

Jaibones on August 3, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Oh, and I will LMAO when the pirates with the $2.75 million don’t release the hostages or the ship.

Jaibones on August 3, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Pirates, like terrorists, should be summarily executed whenever taken in the act.

DRT…

dead, right there.

Ragspierre on August 3, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Oh, and I will LMAO when the pirates with the $2.75 million don’t release the hostages or the ship.

Jaibones on August 3, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Why release the ship when it can be converted into a perfectly fine Maritime Mosque?

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 2:12 PM

sorry, I this was the new international G.I. Joe movie.

Oil Can on August 3, 2009 at 2:17 PM

Apparently, the EU doesn’t think that our “shoot them in the head” plan was successful enough. I haven’t heard of anymore American ships attacked by pirates since then. Weakness begets domination.

orlandocajun on August 3, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Oh, and I will LMAO when the pirates with the $2.75 million don’t release the hostages or the ship.

Jaibones on August 3, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Or if the hostages are released, they are captured again a few miles away by the same or different pirates.

Grafted on August 3, 2009 at 2:26 PM

I feel a song coming on……
Oh Somalian Pirates We!

Content Warning. It’s South Park so ye be warned! Yargh!

Rightwingguy on August 3, 2009 at 2:27 PM

These guys are employed in meat packing plants.

nondhimmie on August 3, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Maybe that’s all the EU can do is pay…. I mean… we have the best damn Special Ops along with Israel. Well done, gentlemen.

CynicalOptimist on August 3, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Content Warning. It’s South Park so ye be warned! Yargh!

Rightwingguy on August 3, 2009 at 2:27 PM

…Awesome episode!

Upstater85 on August 3, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Ransom negotiations — the European metrosexual warrior’s weapon of choice.

Or..

Steve Martin meets the Pirates of the Caribbean, produced by Monty Python.

Skandia Recluse on August 3, 2009 at 2:33 PM

History repeats itself!

TexasDude on August 3, 2009 at 2:05 PM

yes, it does.

But we really can’t point fingers because we released Iranian fighters(and called them diplomats) for the release of that journalist Sabreiri.

Wonder who we will release to Iran for the 3 stray linguists that were just picked up by Iranian authorities this week?

journeyintothewhirlwind on August 3, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Stimulus.

gridlock2 on August 3, 2009 at 2:33 PM

From the earliest times these pirates preyed on merchant ships in these waters. They would attack in fleets of large, heavily armed boats, sometimes in clear view of the harbor, and quickly escape with the booty into a labyrinth of islands. By the 1830s, the menace had become so serious that it was believed to threaten the Asian trade with “total annihilation”.

Keppel came to Brooke’s aid in 1843 and 1844. Joining with Brooke’s own Malay and Iban followers, Keppel’s HMS Dido sailed along the Borneo coast and up rivers, burning their enemies’ strongholds. Keppel himself wrote what proved to be a publishing hit in England when it appeared in 1846 – The Expedition to Borneo of HMS Dido for the Suppression of Piracy:

The punishment we had inflicted was severe, but no more than the crime of hatred horrid piracies deserved. A few heads were brought away by our Dayak followers as trophies … The destruction of these places astonished the whole country beyond description.

Speakup on August 3, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Give me the reins for just one day. There won’t be a Somali coast to sail past.

Limerick on August 3, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Hey, with half the workforce either working part-time or completely layed off, this sounds like a great working theory on how to raise a few dollars….get yourself a little boat along with a few of your neighbors, a couple of weapons (loaded is optional), snarl a lot and the EU will cough it up.

24K lady on August 3, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Long before the EU, many European countries paid the Barbary Pirates. In fact, before we even had a President, we opted to pay them, too.

Really, opting to pay pirates is a business decision, no more, no less.

EconomicNeocon on August 3, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Really, opting to pay pirates is a business yellow belly decision, no more, no less.

EconomicNeocon on August 3, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Limerick on August 3, 2009 at 2:55 PM

When I think of all the sheeple over here I have to stop and remind myself that this could be Europe and far worse. Though, I think we’re heading that way…and fast.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 3, 2009 at 3:01 PM

They should pay these pirates in stinger missles, they will just have to catch them when they are launched at their boats. ooops,it go boom.

workingforpigs on August 3, 2009 at 3:11 PM

I would give an M61 Vulcan 20mm ramsom.

Johan Klaus on August 3, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Long before the EU, many European countries paid the Barbary Pirates. In fact, before we even had a President, we opted to pay them, too.

Really, opting to pay pirates is a business decision, no more, no less.

EconomicNeocon on August 3, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Didn’t work, did it?

Johan Klaus on August 3, 2009 at 3:15 PM

The pirates must have had light sabers.

Hening on August 3, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Really, opting to pay pirates is a business decision, no more, no less. EconomicNeocon on August 3, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Wrong-o. It’s a moral decision making life worse for sailors everywhere.

We used to kill pirates now we coddle them.

A couple of .50 cals on merchant marine ships would put an end to this stupidity. Blow the pirate boats out of the water before they come on board. Keep shooting till they’re all dead and make sure you sink their boat.

Problem solved and it doesn’t cost near as much.

Mojave Mark on August 3, 2009 at 3:21 PM

The answer to a ransom demand should be a small bomb dropped on the deck or a torpedo on the rudder. (I don’t care if targeting a rudder can be done yet — if the military is told to do that they’ll develop a suitable device.) More demands get bigger bombs. Offloading cargo or setting into port calls for destruction of the boat and whatever is next to it. If authorities control the harbor it will be their job to stop entering pirates; if authorities can’t control their harbor then it will be filled with burning and sinking ships.

And, yes, suitable armament should be allowed on board ships. Countries which worry about a few small guns can easily put a small cannon or two in ports which are designated as allowing armed cargo ships. Countries which don’t worry about small guns won’t have to worry about designating which ports an armed merchantman can enter.

An armed port is a polite port — and remember that a single badly behaving ship would have to worry about every other armed ship in the harbor; if a pirate fleet does sail in with the allowed small weapons then it will be that much easier for the harbor guns to hit them. [If one is worried about pirates with small or large guns in your harbor, then one should be worried right now about the ships in your harbor being defenseless against whoever sails in.]

HotWeaver on August 3, 2009 at 3:44 PM

As long as the Eurpoeans pay them and we kill them, I’d say they know which ships to attack. Hey folks, stay off those European boats, sail American.

Christian Conservative on August 3, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Speakup said:

Keppel himself wrote what proved to be a publishing hit in England when it appeared in 1846 – The Expedition to Borneo of HMS Dido for the Suppression of Piracy

Hey, thanks. Download the free book text.

HotWeaver on August 3, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Wait…wait…I thought Obama personally ended that standoff?

PBoilermaker on August 3, 2009

He did. He took out all three pirates with his lever action Daisy Red Ryder. What a man!

SKYFOX on August 3, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle o’ rum!

CynicalOptimist on August 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM

That will pay for better gear, real boats, and one nice training camp.

- The Cat

MirCat on August 3, 2009 at 4:18 PM

As long as the Eurpoeans pay them and we kill them, I’d say they know which ships to attack. Hey folks, stay off those European boats, sail American.

Christian Conservative on August 3, 2009 at 3:47 PM

The EU could always pay us the money… that would make a drop in the bucket on the Obficent (a penny still spends) and we could kill ‘em.

CynicalOptimist on August 3, 2009 at 4:25 PM

mostly lack the commitment to pull the trigger, literally. Barack Obama did,

NO, HE DIDN”T!!

1. BHO wouldn’t authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.

2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn’t do anything unless the hostage’s life was in “imminent” danger

3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction

4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.

5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams

6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies.

7. BHO immediately claims credit for his “daring and decisive” behaviour. As usual with him, it’s BS.

fred5678 on August 3, 2009 at 4:57 PM

dealing with poverty and oppression.

Ah…poverty and oppression pirates.

No mention anywhere by anyone of ideologically inspired behavior or Muslims or anything.

Very respectful to Islam. Bravo.

BL@KBIRD on August 3, 2009 at 5:26 PM

fred5678 on August 3, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Very nice recap! Obviously you were not getting your information from the MSM.

rmgraha on August 3, 2009 at 7:24 PM

It’s the EU Cash for Freighters program. They’re just trying to stimulate their economy a little.

TheBigOldDog on August 3, 2009 at 10:58 PM

maybe the pirates just want beer.

workingforpigs on August 3, 2009 at 11:45 PM