Saturday, October 04, 2008

Somalia: Kenyan Government charges maritime official

Their ship has come in.

With making false statements and possession of marijuana. Dude!

On Thursday, the maritime official appeared in court in Mombasa, charged with making false and alarming statements to the media. He was also charged with possessing $3 worth of marijuana and ordered to be held until his next court appearance on Tuesday.

We're talking about Andrew Mwangura, the go to guy, the main man in the know about all things Somali Pirate. (Details of his recent arrest and background can be found here, if you're interested.)

But back to Andrew and the real news about the MV FAINA and that Ukrainian arms shipment. It looks like there's been a pattern of trafficking activity in the region and the good guys are onto it:

Separately, the U.S. Navy and defense officials in Washington said that they, too, had reports that the military cargo on the freighter was destined for Sudan. Mwangura have told the media that several other military shipments in the past year were sent to the southern Sudanese town of Juba through the port in Mombasa.

Kenyan and foreign media groups, quoting their own military sources and Western arms experts, have widely reported that South Sudan is believed to have more than 100 Russian-made tanks in its arsenal while the Kenyan military has none.

This report claims that Andrew is cooperating fully with authorities.

"He is assisting the government in investigations because he appears to have direct connections with the pirates, who have been hijacking ships," he said. "Pirates appear to call him directly or he has access to people, who have directly access to the pirates. He has appeared the last few times to be their official spokesman."

To give you an idea of how out in the open this whole pirate business is. Just dial Pirate 4-1-1.

Mwangura has been a key source of information for many groups, including journalists, on ship hijackings taking place off the coast of Somalia. He has said that his sources include pirates and their families, but that is not unusual. Many media organizations, including VOA, can easily reach pirates and people who know them via mobile and satellite telephones.

Even the New York Times has been ringing up the Pirate Shiver me Timbers Hot Line.

And in case you're wondering what's happening out at the ship:

As many as six U.S. Navy destroyers, cruisers, and amphibious ships are near the captured freighter, anchored about 11 kilometers off the town of Hobyo in central Somalia.

The Russians and the Ukrainians (or as Joe Biden would say: 'Ukrainiacs') are still
burning up the phone wires discussing the situation. (Or maybe their plans to conduct a hostage rescue operation?) Russia also says they want to work with the US and EU in addressing the piracy scourge. Unh-huh. So does Egypt. Hey, Egypt how about working on your own garden variety Islamoterrorists in Egypt?