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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default Somali Pirates Hijack Iranian Ship, Get Sick An Die. Hmmmm...

    Here's one from the Long War Journal (great friggin' blog) about a hijacked Iranian ship that seems to make people sick:

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...rrounds_hi.php

    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.

    It was business as usual when speedboats surrounded the MV Iran Deyanat on August 21. The 44468 dead weight tonnage bulk carrier was pushing towards the Suez and had just entered the Gulf of Aden - dangerous waters where instability, greed and no-questions-asked ransom payments have led to a recent surge in piracy. Steaming past the Horn of Africa, 82 nautical miles southeast of al-Makalla in Yemen, the ship was a prize for the taking. It would bring hundreds of thousands of dollars - possibly millions - to the Somalia-based crime syndicate. The captain was defenseless against the 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades blocking his passage. He had little choice other than to turn his ship over to them. What the pirates were not banking on, however, was that this was no ordinary ship.

    The MV Iran Deyanat is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) - a state-owned company run by the Iranian military that was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 10, shortly after the ship's hijacking. According to the U.S. Government, the company regularly falsifies shipping documents in order to hide the identity of end users, uses generic terms to describe shipments to avoid the attention of shipping authorities, and employs the use of cover entities to circumvent United Nations sanctions to facilitate weapons proliferation for the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

    The MV Iran Deyanat set sail from Nanjing, China, at the end of July and, according to its manifest, planned to travel to Rotterdam, where it would unload 42,500 tons of iron ore and "industrial products" purchased by a German client. Its arrival in the Gulf of Aden, Somali officials tell The Long War Journal, was suspiciously early. According to a publicly available status report on the IRISL Web site, the ship reached the Gulf on August 20 and was scheduled to reach the Suez Canal on August 27 - a seven day journey. "Depending on the speed of the ship," Puntland Minister of Ports Ahmed Siad Nur said in a phone interview on Saturday, "it should take between 4 and 5 days to reach Suez."


    A hijacked bulk carrier looms in the horizon of the beach in Eyl. Photo from Garowe Online.

    Suspicion has also been cast on the ship's crew, half of which is almost entirely staffed by Iranians - a large percentage of Iranian nationals for a standard merchant vessel. Somali officials say that the ship has a crew of 29 men, including a Pakistani captain, an Iranian engineer, 13 other Iranians, 3 Indians, 2 Filipinos, and 10 Eastern Europeans, possibly Croatian.

    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.

    News about the illness and the toxic cargo quickly reached Garowe, seat of the government for the autonomous region of Puntland. Angered over the wave of piracy and suspicious about the Iranian ship, authorities dispatched a delegation led by Minister of Minerals and Oil Hassan Allore Osman to investigate the situation on September 4. Osman also confirmed to The Long War Journal that during the six days he negotiated with the pirates members of the syndicate had become sick and died. "That ship is unusual," he said. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."

    The delegation faced a tense situation in Eyl, Osman recounts. The syndicate had demanded a $9 million ransom for 10 ships that were in its possession and refused permission to inspect the Iranian vessel. At one point, he said, the pirates threatened to "blow up" the MV Iran Deyanat if authorities tried to inspect it with force. A committee of delegate members and Eyl city officials was formed to negotiate directly with the pirates in order to defuse the situation.

    Once in direct contact, the pirates told Osman that they had attempted to inspect the ship's seven cargo containers after they developed health complications but the containers were locked. The crew claimed that they did not have the "access codes" and could not open them. The delegation secured contact with the captain and the engineer by cell phone and demanded to know the nature of the cargo, however, Osman says that "they were saying different things to different people." Initially they said that the cargo contained "crude oil" but then claimed it contained "minerals."

    "The secrecy is not clear to us," Mwangura said about the cargo. "Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals." IRISL has flatly denied the ship is carrying a "dangerous consignment" and has threatened legal action against Mwangura.

    The syndicate set the ship's ransom at $2 million and the Iranian government provided $200,000 to a local broker "to facilitate the exchange." Iran refutes that it agreed to the price and has paid any money to the pirates. Nevertheless, after sanctions were applied to IRISL on September 10, Osman says, the Iranians told the pirates that the deal was off. "They told the pirates that they could not come because of the presence of the U.S. Navy." The region is patrolled by the multinational Combined Taskforce 150, which includes ships from the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

    In a strange twist, the Iranian press claims that the U.S. has offered to pay a $7 million bribe to the pirates to "receive entry permission and search the vessel." Officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State approached for this story refused to comment on the situation. Somali officials would also not comment on any direct U.S. involvement but one high-level official in the Puntland government told The Long War Journal "I can say the ship is of interest to a lot of people, including Puntland."

    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."

    Iran's involvement in the conflict in Somalia on behalf of Islamist insurgents is well documented. In 2006, Iran flouted arms embargos and provided sophisticated anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), intelligence sources told The Long War Journal, including SA-7 Strella and SA-18 Igla MANPADS - shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles - as well as AT-3 Sagger antitank missiles.

    A report issued by the United Nations in 2006 states that weapons were transferred to Somalia through Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which also absorbed a contingent of 700 Islamist fighters from Somalia during Hezbollah's war with Israel. The report also states that Iran provided support for Islamist training camps inside Somalia and had sent two emissaries to negotiate with the ICU for access to Somalia's uranium mines
    Hair-loss? Skin burns?

    There is some bad JuJu onboard that ship....
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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    That's a second-age Kindred's Sarcophagus. I had that mission when I played Vampire: Bloodlines. All poor bastards on the ship had been mysteriously killed

  3. #3
    Sinner's Swing! graeme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WinterlessIceness View Post
    That's a second-age Kindred's Sarcophagus. I had that mission when I played Vampire: Bloodlines. All poor bastards on the ship had been mysteriously killed
    Hi Winter. Are you looking after yourself ok?
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  4. #4
    Atomic Punk ZeoBandit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
    Hair-loss? Skin burns?

    There is some bad JuJu onboard that ship....
    Sounds like radiation poisoning to me, but I'm no doctor.
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  5. #5
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graeme View Post
    Hi Winter. Are you looking after yourself ok?
    Other than my usual dementia, I'm doing just fine. I refuse to take my valium

  6. #6
    Wear the fox hat... Filthy 150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeoBandit View Post
    Sounds like radiation poisoning to me, but I'm no doctor.
    Yeah, I was kind of wondering if that was it.

    I'd be curious to see what Russia says if it is.
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  7. #7
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filthy 150 View Post
    Yeah, I was kind of wondering if that was it.

    I'd be curious to see what Russia says if it is.
    That's how Russia deals with pirates!

    Coln. Volkov: Comrad, Pirates have captured our ship!
    Gen. Trovimoff: Meh, they won't handle radiation anyway.
    Coln. Volkov: Sir, radiation?
    Gen. Trovimoff: Our russkies crews are immune to it. Chernobyl-born
    Coln. Volkov: Ah, alright
    Last edited by WinterlessIceness; 09.29.08 at 08:56 AM.

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk
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    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,430681,00.html

    As Somali pirates brazenly maintain their standoff with American warships off the coast of Africa, the cargo aboard one Iranian ship they commandeered is raising concerns that it may contain materials that can be used for chemical or biological weapons.



    Some local officials suspect that instead of finding riches, the pirates encountered deadly chemical agents aboard the Iranian vessel.

    On Aug. 21, the pirates, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, stole onto the decks of the merchant vessel Iran Deyanat.

    They ransacked the ship and searched the containers. But in the days following the hijacking, a number of them fell ill and died, suffering skin burns and hair loss, according to reports.

    The pirates were sickened because of their contact with the seized cargo, according to Hassan Osman, the Somali minister of Minerals and Oil, who met with the pirates to facilitate negotiations.

    "That ship is unusual," Osman told the Long War Journal, an online news source that covers the War on Terror. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."

    The pirates reportedly were in talks to sell the ship back to Iran, but the deal fell through when the pirates were poisoned by the cargo, according to Andrew Mwangura, director of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Program.

    "Yes, some of them have died," he told the Long War Journal. "Our sources say [the ship] contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals."

    Iran has called the allegations a "sheer lie," and said that the ship "had no dangerous consignment on board," according to Iranian news source Press TV. Iran says the merchant vessel was shipping iron ore from a port in China to Amsterdam.

    The ship's contents are still unclear, but the reported deaths and skin abrasions have raised concerns that it could be more than meets the eye.

    The massive shipping company that controls the vessel, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL), was recently designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury over nuclear proliferation concerns. IRISL, which is accused of falsifying documents to facilitate the shipment of weapons and chemicals for use in Iran's missile program, is blocked from moving money through U.S. banks as well as from carrying food and medical supplies as part of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

    "IRISL's actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs," said Stuart Levey, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

    The U.S. government has made no accusation against IRISL regarding the Iran Denayat; the State Department would not comment on reports of its suspicious cargo.

    "I don't have any information on that case," said State Department spokesman Curtis Cooper. "We're aware that there are currently 12 other hijacked ships off the Somali coast. This is obviously something that is disturbing."

    Experts on Somalia are dubious of claims made by the country's provisional government, whose president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, reportedly has family ties to the pirates.

    "I'm not saying it's impossible that this has happened, but I'd take anything they say with a great deal of salt," said J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. "They have made fanciful claims before in the hopes of attracting U.S. and other international attention."

    Pham said that the 14 provisional governments that have ruled Somalia since 1991 have all relied on foreign aid for support and profit and could be trying to attract attention by inflating the current crisis.

    "Would it be beyond them to raise the specter of WMDs in order to attract resources and international assistance? The only source of revenue for this government is foreign aid," he told FOXNews.com.

    Chemical experts say the reports sound inconsistent with chemical poisoning, but may reflect the effects of exposure to radiation.

    "It's baffling," said Jonathan Tucker, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "I'm not aware of any chemical agent that produces loss of hair within a few days. That's more suggestive of high levels of radioactive waste."

    Tucker, a chemical and biological weapons expert, said that Chinese companies have been implicated in selling Iran so-called dual-use chemicals, legal ingredients that can be processed into chemical weapons.

    The U.S. government says that Iran maintains facilities to process those chemicals as part of a chemical and biological weapons program. "Iran continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare," said Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell in testimony before Congress in February.

    But while Iran has purchased and shipped such chemicals in the past, it remains unclear whether the Iran Deyanat contains any illegal chemicals or harmful agents.

    "A number of Chinese companies have been implicated in this illicit trade, but I've never heard of extremely toxic chemicals being shipped," Tucker told FOXNews.com. "It's very rare it's very unlikely that a country would ship manufactured weapons from one country to another."
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

 

 

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