What was doing an Iranian State’s cargo ship on Somali waters?
A tense standoff is underway in northeastern Somalia between pirates, Somali authorities, and Iran over a suspicious merchant vessel and its mysterious cargo. Hijacked late last month in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products, however, Somali and regional officials directly involved in the negotiations over the ship and who spoke to The Long War Journal are convinced that it was heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist insurgents.
(…) The MV Iran Deyanat was brought to Eyl, a sleepy fishing village in northeastern Somalia, and was secured by a larger gang of pirates – 50 onboard and 50 onshore. Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died. “Yes, some of them have died. I do not know exactly how many but the information that I am getting is that some of them have died,” Andrew Mwangura, Director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program, said Friday when reached by phone in Mombasa.
(…) The exact nature of the cargo remains a mystery but officials in Puntland and Baidoa are convinced the ship was carrying weapons to Eritrea for Islamist insurgents. “We cannot inspect the cargo yet,” Osman said, “but we are sure that it is weapons.”
“Puntland requested the pirates two weeks ago to hand over this Iranian ship, saying that it is carrying weapons to Eritrea,” Puntland Fisheries Minister Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf told Reuters. “I have seen food and other odd items on the ship but I do not know what is hidden underneath.”
For once, it has been the Somali pirates the ones who have been struck with “severe shock”.
Anyway, I am shocked (as ever…) because this story is nowhere in the media… Looks like it hasn’t happened… at all.
- Pirates “want $35m for Ukranian tank ship”. The ship was transporting tanks for Kenya. Russia has sent a warship to fight pirates. More information about this in Danger Room: “
- Somalia: 160,000 people have left Mogadishu in 2008 as refugees.
IBA considers both Ukranian and Iranian are the same ship. I just don’t think so. The Ukranian has said what its load of cargo was since the first time. The Iranian crew didn’t tell what it actually contained (it was truly vague, “minerals and industrial products“): we only know the effects it caused on the people who went near it (“pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair“). And certainly those effects are not those of a simple “tank and weaponry”. Some people had died out of what they inhaled or touched there.
The Ukrainian cargo ship, whose shipment includes weaponry and tanks, kidnapped by Somali pirates last Thursday, was headed yesterday towards the town of Harardere, a zone controlled by Islamists, according to high-ranking official of the Puntland’s region.
“The pirates are headed towards the harbour of Hobyo and towards Haradhere. Apparently, they want to unload some light weapons there from the cargo ship“, Bile Mohamoud Qabowsade, the Presidency’s Councillor of Puntland’s autonomous government, told by phone from Mogadishu.