NATO stirred into anti-piracy action by overlap with E. African jihadist terror

On Oct. 3, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 367 reported that the capture of the Ukrainian arms vessel, Faina, had placed Somali piracy at the center of the war on terror. This development is beginning to stir the world powers into action against the long-running scourge. On Oct. 9, sixteen days after the Faina’s capture, NATO defense ministers meeting in Budapest finally agreed to send warships “soon” to Somali waters to safeguard vessels threatened by pirates.
Six more ships were hit in the last week.
The DEBKA-Net-Weekly exclusive is summarized here.
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Some East African counter-terror sources report that, while previous Ukrainian arms shipments were covertly diverted from Kenya to Darfur, some also reached the hands of Islamic militias in Somalia, who are ruled by the notorious Abdullah Mohamed Fazul, the slippery al Qaeda chief in East Africa. He has been on the run for two decades since masterminding the 1998 attacks on US East African embassies, but this has not stopped him engaging in terrorist activity.
During August and September, Fazul was on the move, sighted in such places as Mombasa, Kenya, and the coastal town of Malindi. There, some sources report he negotiated the purchase of part of the Faina cargo from its Kenyan buyers. He need the arms to share out between his Somali insurgent following and the cells associated with al Qaeda in Uganda and Tanzania.
On Sept. 15, Ugandan security agencies went on high alert following intelligence reports that the wanted man may have been planning an attack in reprisal for Kampala’s support for African Union peacekeeping operations in Somalia. Fazul was said to be recruiting. The entire East African region went on alert to net al Qaeda’s East African mastermind who, unlike his master, Osama bin Laden, does not keep his head down but flits from place to place.
According to one theory prevalent in counter-terror agencies, Fazul was short of funds for buying the Faina’s entire arms cargo, so he traded off with a tip-off to the pirates of the approaching arms vessel on the understanding that his men would receive part of the shipment at cut price.
The USS Howard guided missile destroyer and several other Western warships have been standing by for 10 days monitoring movements aboard and around the Faina at anchor 7 miles from the Somali port of Hobyo, a stronghold of the local Islamic Resistance Movement which is linked to al Qaeda. It has been fighting for nearly two years to overthrow the Mogadishu government.
The US destroyer’s captain is under orders not to move in unless an attempt is made to offload the $30 m worth cargo of 33 T-72 tanks, RPG rocket-propelled grenades, ZU-23 automatic anti-air guns or let it reach the Islamist terrorists on shore.
Although Moscow first announced the missile frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) was speeding to the rescue, the warship has not yet arrived.
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debkafile‘s military sources add that the frigate is meanwhile escorting a Russian flotilla led by the Peter the Great around the ports of Libya and Syria. Only then, will it head to Somalia.

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