“As they bobbed in the ocean near the USS Bainbridge, a Navy destroyer sent to rescue Phillips, the teenage pirates were experiencing withdrawal after days without khat, a mildly narcotic leaf chewed in for its stimulant effects” — from a report in the Washington Post, here.
Then, three hijackers were killed, and, the Washington Post said, “The Justice Department is deciding where to send the fourth pirate for trial”. [He had earlier sought treatment aboard the nearby USS Bainbridge for a wounded hand, meaning that he had effectively surrendered.]
In the same article, the Washington Post reported that “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates aid the four pirates involved in taking Phillips hostage were 17 to 19 years old — “untrained teenagers with heavy weapons.”
According to this article, U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed “as many as five times a day”.
A senior military official who spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity reportedly said: “It was pretty remarkable that these snipers nailed these guys, … You think of rough seas, 75, 80 feet away, and under darkness, and they got them. Three pirates, three rounds, three dead bodies.”
But, the Washington Post said, “In Somalia, in the pirate haven of Harardhere, where locals have benefited from millions of dollars in pirate ransom, the military operation seemed like a bewildering display of force against four errant young men. ‘It was wrong to kill those pirates’, said Aisha Gurey, an Arabic teacher. ‘The international community is wrong, and the pirates are wrong. But in this case, the strong one has killed the weak one’.”
AFP reported that Gates “told a group of 30 students and faculty members at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia [that] ‘There is no purely military solution to’ piracy in the region … As long as you’ve got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there’s really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids’.” This AFP report can be read in full here.
Earlier, AP reported that “Analysts are warning that the increasingly brazen piracy and its toll on
shipping companies is going to lead to higher prices for commodities headed to the West. In addition, more than 10 percent of the world’s petroleum supply is shipped past Somalia and into Gulf of Aden, the shortest route between Asia and Europe”. This report can be read in full here.
Despite the successful hostage rescue — or because of it — Somali pirates siezed four more ships and dozens more hostages today.