Baidoa, Somalia, April 22, 2006 – There has been reports that the Korean ship that was hijacked in southern Somalia will be released soon after talks between the owners of the ship and its captors. The Somali captors of the Korean ship insist that they are not common criminals and that the ship was fishing illegally in Somalia’s territorial waters. But whether the captors of the ship are patriots or common criminals, one thing is certain: Abshir Farah, the Minister of Fisheries in Somalia’s nominal government received money from the Korean ship in return for allowing them to fish in Somalia’s territorial waters.
Both Abshir Farah and officials from the Korean company that owns the ship have confirmed it. Abshir Farah is from Majeerteenya (Puntland). This fact is significant because of all the Somali inhabited territories, Majeerteenya is the epicenter of all sorts of criminal activities such as human trafficking, arms smuggling, and hijacking of ships. Therefore, as far as Abshir Farah is concerned, signing some papers for the Koreans and pocketing the money they gave him was business as usual, the way it is done in Majeerteenya.
Lately, there has been an ugly twist to this story. After watching pirates from Majeerteenya making huge sums of money from their illegal activities, elements further south in Somalia have now adopted the Majeerteenya model and have been hijacking one ship after another. The southern elements that have decided to copy Majeerteenya are not just the pirates who seize the ships but members of Somalia’s dysfunctional government. Just as Abdillahi Yusuf, former head of Majeerteenya and now head of “Somalia’s government” used to work closely with the pirates in Majeerteenya, and just as Abshir Farah of Majeerteenya is now signing under the table deals with fishing companies, Ali Geedi the southern “prime minister” has established a pattern of jumping in and offering his services as a mediator, for a fee from owners of ships and a cut from the captors of ships.
Back in October last year, the Kenyan intelligence service realized that there was a link between the captors of a Mombassa registered ship, The MV Torgelow, and the “government of Somalia.” The BBC ran this headline on Oct.12, 2005: “The Kenyan government is investigating whether members of the interim Somali government are behind the hijacking of a Mombassa-registered cargo ship.” In that same report, the Kenyan government threatened “to cut ties with the Somali government” if its “strong suspicions” are proved. The Kenyan government did not carry out its promise despite the available evidence. And that is one of the reasons the Majeerteenya syndrome of ruthless criminality combined with a clever campaign of deception is finding more and more recruits, especially in south Somalia.
Source: Somaliland Times