`Muslim nation` funds private Somali militia: Same country pays ex-CIA man to advise government UN investigates possible violation of arms embargo
Xan Rice Nairobi
December 03, 2010
Reports claim a new security force, training in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, will combat piracy. Photograph: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images
An undisclosed “Muslim nation” is funding a 1,000-strong, privately trained military force in northern Somalia and has hired a former CIA officer and a senior official from the Bush administration to advise the Somali government on security matters, according to a report.
The Associated Press said the “anti-piracy” force was receiving instruction in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region on the tip of Africa`s horn that oil and gas exploration firms are interested in.
A separate force will be trained in the capital, Mogadishu, the news agency said, citing sources involved in the programme, which has reportedly cost many millions of dollars. A large convoy of pick-up trucks, small aircraft and armoured vehicles will support the troops.
The motivation of the donor country remains unknown, and UN experts have confirmed they are investigating whether there has been a violation of Somalia`s arms embargo. The country has not had a functioning government since 1991, and Islamists who claim allegiance to al-Qaida are trying to gain overall control.
AP said the same country funding the security forces had hired Pierre Prosper, who was an ambassador at large for war crimes issues under George Bush from 2001-05, to advise the Somali government on legal issues related to security, anti-corruption and transparency. Prosper said he was being paid to do the job by “a Muslim nation”, which he declined to name.
Fellow American Michael Shanklin, the CIA deputy chief of station in Mogadishu 20 years ago, told AP he was employed by the same country as “a security adviser and liaison to the Somali government”.
The involvement of the two men is likely to be viewed with deep suspicion in Somalia, and is likely to be used by the Islamists for propaganda. Many Somalis are mistrustful of foreign meddling.
AP named the private security company involved in training the troops as Saracen International, a Uganda-based firm headed by a South African former special forces soldier called Bill Pelser. In a November statement the Puntland government said Saracen had been hired to establish its “marine forces”, while documents from the Somali presidency this year suggested the company had been hired to train the presidential guard in Mogadishu.
But in a phone interview, Pelser told the Guardian claims of his company`s involvement were “bullshit”, and said he would take legal action against the media. “I have already given a statement to the UN security council on this. None of my assets are involved in Somalia. It must be another company called Saracen,” he said.
Puntland is more stable than the rest of Somalia, but the creation of an “anti-piracy” force will raise questions. Senior members of the current administration are believed to have close links to some pirate groups, who have raked in millions in ransoms for foreign ships. Previous efforts to train a local navy have seen recruits “go off and become elite pirates themselves”, according to a Somalia analyst in Nairobi, who asked not to be named.
Mohamed Farole, the son of Puntland president Abdirahman Mohamed Farole and a powerful figure in his own right, said the first 150 graduates completed a 13-week training course this week. He told AP they would be used to hunt pirates in the Galgala mountains. However, that area is not known as a major piracy hotspot. The main pirate bases fall outside Puntland.
But Galgala is the territory of a well-known weapons dealer and militia leader called Mohamed Said Atom. Accused of supplying arms to Somalia`s main Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, Atom has clashed with Puntland`s administration before and complained about being excluded from energy exploration deals.
© Copyright 2010. The Guardian. All rights reserved.
The secret Somalia anti-piracy force
By Elizabeth Dickinson
Foreign Policy Magazine
December 02, 2010
An un-named Muslim country is funding the creation of a well-armed and privately trained militia force in Somalia`s north to fight piracy, the AP reports today. And behind the scenes consulting are the George W. Bush administration`s former ambassador at large for war crimes, Pierre Prosper, and former CIA deputy station chief in Mogadishu Michael Shanklin. The force has already trained its first recruits (Saracen, a private security firm, is taking the lead) and received its first shipment of weapons. And most incredibly of all, it will have air support -- something that no military force in the country currently has, even the U.N. peacekeepers.
If it weren`t for WikiLeaks, this might well be front-page news. For the last two years, the international community has been trying to do two things: train a decent government army to defend the country from Islamist militant groups that now control much of the country`s southern territory, and end the epidemic of piracy that has plagued the Somali coast. This donor Muslim nation now seems more serious (and more willing to pay) for both things in one sweeping blow, creating what may soon be Somalia`s best functioning military force. As AP reporter Katharine Houreld points out, he who holds the gun makes the rules in Somalia.
I can`t speculate with any authority on which country is behind this rather game-changing feat. But I will say that one of the region`s most active ports, Dubai, sends a lot of cargo through the pirate plagued Gulf of Aden. Then again, we learn from Wikileaks that Egypt has urged the U.S. Joint Chiefs to ”focus counter piracy efforts on the Somali shore.” But equally of question is whether the United States knew about this and was on board. The State Department today expressed concern about the report. The United Nations was apparently cut out entirely; they are reported to be investigating a possible breach of U.N. weapons sanctions by the ongoing training. It wouldn`t be the first time that Washington and the United Nations were behind the curve in Somalia.
Puntland Security First, U.N. Whining Later
December 02, 2010
Dec 02, 2010 (Garowe Online/All Africa Global Media) -- Those same jokers say Garowe Online opinion represents Puntland government opinion.
What did they say? U.N. Security Council arms embargo?
The joke of the century! Any logical mind will refuse such a grand lie. U.N. power is limited to coffee shops inside New York City where the world`s rich and powerful rub shoulders.
Those same jokers say Garowe Online opinion represents Puntland government opinion. So what you`re effectively saying is, despite the years of hard work, investment, dedication and love of country, Garowe Online belongs to Puntland government? Sorry, Somali arms embargo by U.N. is a joke - Puntland government sympathy for Garowe Online is a bigger joke. Garowe Online is equal to every independent news agency in Somalia.
Puntland will not beg anyone for its security. Puntland will not ask anyone for permission for its own security, not Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia or U.S. State Department, or the U.N. This is the power of Puntland - granted, by He who has Absolute Power, Allahu Akbar.
Associated Press says Puntland wants to search for oil in Galgala hills. Sure, Puntland has its own oil company. It`s called Galgala Oil Company; if what you say is true, please search for oil yourself. Puntland will guarantee the security for all companies who invest in Puntland - Muslim or non-Muslim.
No country on earth helped Puntland fight a three-month war in Galgala hills against Al Shabaab terrorists. Now that Puntland won the war, and is improving its security, the complaints about U.N. arms embargo is the discussion? Did the U.N. help Puntland fight a war? Does U.N. protect Puntland officials, who face assassination by Al Shabaab any minute? Oh wait, U.N. officials with three-piece suit are sipping coffee in New York City.
We say: Puntland security first, U.N. whining later. Puntland has no time for U.N. whining when its officials are targets. Puntland will not be a sitting duck, waiting for Al Shabaab terrorists to shoot our brilliant men and women, who work hard, who dedicate their life to helping their people. Puntland will never appease terrorists. But those who lie, and say Puntland wants oil in Galgala, please feel free to invest in Galgala and search for this elusive oil. Puntland will guarantee security for all investors.
International Crisis Group is a criminal organization based in Brussels. Their meetings are all about how to create violence and conflict in Pakistan, or Venezuela, or Puntland. They are intellectual mercenaries. Puntland has defeated Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda ideology. The remaining Al Shabaab terrorist cells will be dealt with mercilessly. But Puntland, or the Somali people as a whole as the gatekeepers of Islam, will never apologize for our Holy Religion. Puntland is home to Muslims. AP reports that a so-called Muslim country is funding anti-piracy troops being trained in Puntland.
Must be the crime of the century! One imagines the three-piece suit man, reading a newspaper in Melbourne or Seattle, who reads the AP version of truth about Puntland`s anti-piracy troops. The notion of a “Muslim country” funding troops in Puntland is supposed to scare that man with the suit. He will wonder, he will ask questions, he will have much to fear.
So Puntland should have waited for Western donor money to fund its own security? Our deepest apologies, on behalf of Puntland since everyone is convinced Garowe Online is Puntland government. We are sorry. We should have waited. Waited for the terrorists to bomb our homes! We should give terrorists more time to kill educated persons in Puntland. Yes, this is appeasement policy of Western powers - those who declared a war they will never finish. Yes, lets appease the terrorists and say Somalia has U.N. arms embargo.
Please don`t mention the terrorists who control ports and airports in Baidoa, Marka, Kismayo, Bali Dogle and Barawe. They have airplanes and ships bring them weapons every week. Please, don`t mention them because the West appeases such terrorists. No one mention them. How dare you mention them!
Mention Puntland! They are under U.N. arms embargo on Somalia. Use Associated Press, to ensure delivery of message in every Western household, everyone should be scared of Puntland security forces being trained and funded by, so-called “Muslim country” and their “zakat fund.”
Why is this Muslim country so mysterious? Associated Press should respect itself and never allow unconfirmed news to be published. Unless, there are Western governments who are unhappy, who are in fact terrified, Puntland will have helicopters to hunt down Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda terrorists. TFG is a failure - it`s a joke among Somali people. Sheikh Sharif is a coward who lives inside of a plane - when he is not inside of a plane, he is asking his best friend Godane to have mercy on Ugandan soldiers serving in Mogadishu. Not asking mercy for his Somali brothers.
No one knows what the West wants with Somalia. Maybe Somalia should be a bathroom for Ethiopians to use. Or maybe Somalia should bow down to the power of its enemies, including those in the West, who advocate for continued anarchy in Somalia. This will never be acceptable.
Somalis will have their own army, they will rise above expectations, and Africa will be stunned when its hero (Somalia) stands up again.
No one has the right or ability to interfere with Puntland`s security interests. Puntland will fight its enemies, first and foremost those who advocate assassinations and bombings in Puntland. There will be no mercy for them.
Puntland shall never apologize for taking full charge of its own security. But those terrorists in three-piece suit, who wish to see Somalia burn forever and be enslaved by Ethiopians and Ugandans, please remember one truth:
Puntland`s destiny is already decided. Hate it or love it.
© 2010 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
FACTBOX-Ships held by Somali pirates
November 30, 2010
Nov 30 (Reuters) - Here is a list of ships held by Somali pirates after a Malaysian-owned cargo vessel was seized, the European Union`s anti-piracy task force said.
* SOCOTRA 1: Seized on Dec. 25, 2009. The Yemeni-owned ship was captured in the Gulf of Aden after it left the port of Alshahr in Yemen. Six Yemeni crew.
* AL NISR AL SAUDI: Seized on March 1, 2010. The Saudi-owned 5,136-dwt tanker was on its way from Japan to Jeddah with one Greek and 13 Sri Lankan crew members.
* ICEBERG 1: Seized on March 29, Roll-on roll-off vessel taken 10 miles from the port of Aden. 24 crew.
* RAK AFRIKANA: Seized on April 11. The St Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged 7,561-dwt cargo ship was hijacked about 280 miles west of the Seychelles. Owned by Seychelles` Rak Afrikana Shipping Ltd.
* Three Thai fishing vessels -- PRANTALAY 11, 12 and 14 -- were hijacked on April 17-18 with a total of 77 crew.
* AL-DHAFIR: Seized on May 7. Yemeni fishing boat seized off Yemen. 7 crew.
* MARIDA MARGUERITE: Seized on May 8. The chemical tanker en route from Kandla in Gujarat to Antwerp in Belgium was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden with crew of 22 -- 19 Indians, two Bangladeshis and one Ukrainian.
* ELENI P: Seized on May 12. The Liberia-flagged and Greek-owned ship, carrying iron and sailing from Ukraine to China via Singapore was seized in the Gulf of Aden. Crew of 2 Greeks and 22 Filipinos.
* MOTIVATOR: Seized on July 4. A 13,065-dwt tanker, hijacked in the Red Sea, with 18 Filipino crew and carrying lubricating oil. It is Marshall Islands-flagged.
* SUEZ: Seized on Aug. 2. The Panama-flagged cargo ship was hijacked in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden. The ship was carrying cement bags and had a crew of 23 from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
* OLIB G: Seized on Sept. 8: Maltese-flagged merchant vessel seized in the IRTC. 18 crew -- 15 Georgians and 3 Turks.
* ASPHALT VENTURE: Seized on Sept. 29: The 3,884-dwt bitumen carrier was heading to Durban from Mombasa. 15 Indian crew. Managed by Mumbai-based Omci Ship Management Pvt and owned by Bitumen Invest AS of United Arab Emirates.
* GOLDEN WAVE: Seized on Oct. 9. The South-Korean fishing vessel Golden Wave -- formerly known as Keummi 305 -- had a crew of 39 Kenyans, two Koreans and two Chinese.
* IZUMI: Seized on Oct. 10: The Izumi, operated by NYK-Hinode Line Ltd, The Panama-flagged ship was en route to Mombasa with a cargo of steel. 20 Filipino crew.
* YORK: Seized on Oct. 23: The Singapore-flagged, Greek managed, LPG tanker was seized 50 miles from Mombasa. The European naval force, EU Navfor, said the vessel had a crew of 17 -- a German master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos. The 5,076-dwt York was sailing empty after discharging her LPG cargo at the Shimanzi oil terminal in Mombasa.
* POLAR: Seized on Oct 30: The Liberian-owned 72,825 tonne tanker was seized 580 miles east of Socotra island. The Panama-flagged tanker carried a crew of one Romanian, three Greeks, four Montenegrins and 16 Filipinos.
* ALY ZULFECAR: Seized on Nov. 2: The Comoran passenger boat was taken inside Tanzania`s territorial waters. The crew consists of 1 Tanzanian, 4 Comorian and 4 Madagascar. There were 12 Tanzanian and 8 Comorian passengers.
* HANNIBAL II: Seized on Nov. 11: The Panama-flagged chemical tanker was taken 860 nautical miles east of the Horn of Africa, considerably closer to India than to Somalia, EU Navfor said. The 24,105 tonne tanker was taken while sailing to Suez from Malaysia carrying vegetable oil. It had a crew of 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan.
* YUAN XIANG: Seized on Nov. 12: The Chinese-owned general cargo ship, carrying 29 Chinese crew was captured off Oman.
* ALBEDO: Seized on Nov. 26: The Malaysian-owned cargo vessel and its 23-strong crew was taken 900 miles off Somalia as it headed for the Kenyan port city of Mombasa from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. The crew are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran, the task force said. Sources: Reuters/Ecoterra International/International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre/Lloyds List/Inquirer.net/www.eunavfor.eu
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)
© 2010 Reuters Limited