Blackwater security eyes war against pirates

The infamous mercenary firm considers joining the battle against Somalia's pirates, while Ayaan Hirsi Ali laments Africa's aid habit.
big think
8 December 2008

The Gulf of Aden’s Maritime Security Patrol Area could be the scene of a significantly messier engagement than the routine hijackings of commercial vessels that occur there every week. Shipping companies keen on avoiding long and costly detours and/or pillaging, as befell the Sirius Star, are hiring crack security teams to defend their cargo. Most employ non-lethal tactics, like the Dorset-based Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, which blasts warning sounds at 150 decibels toward pirate vessels. (This is 30 above the maximum safe threshold for humans and enough to send most buccaneers on a course back for Puntland.) When pirates have succeeded, defense personnel have not been as tech-savvy as APMSS. Rumored to soon be entering the anti-pirate market, with a decidedly more aggressive list of services, is Iraq War favorite Blackwater Worldwide. As Nick Davis, head of APMSS told Salon, introducing lethal force to the bandit seas could easily result in dead hostages on the 50 currently hijacked vessels ashore in Somalia. For the moment, on Puntland’s blossoming Riviera, hostages receive white-glove treatment from the pirates including catered meals.

For some expert perspective on the Africa's woes, let’s turn to American Enterprise Fellow and the world’s 15th most popular public intellectual Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her thoughts on foreign involvement in Africa. She endorses investment in the continent's nascent industries, certainly before more failed international aid schemes. However, the anti-piracy sector probably doesn’t make her short list.

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