"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." -- H.L. MenckenNobody reminded me about International Talk Like a Pirate Day earlier this month. We can laugh at the hats, the flags, and the sea shanties, but now let me be the party-pooper and scare you about stories of real pirates:
The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview on Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas.Even with the heavy weaponry, the story never really caught my interest. The pirates are clearly after a ransom and not the weapons.
“We just saw a big ship,” the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, said in a telephone interview. “So we stopped it.”
The pirates quickly learned, though, that their booty was an estimated $30 million worth of heavy weaponry, heading for Kenya or Sudan, depending on whom you ask.
But then I read another story about a pirated Iranian ship with very different cargo. This cargo was described as "chemicals, dangerous chemicals."
Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.I'm not a doctor, but I watch House a lot. Sounds like these pirates have a serious case of radiation exposure. But with so little coverage of this story, it's hard to know what's going on.
Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.
And if it is nuclear material or chemical weapons, then who shipped it, where was it headed and for what purpose? If it involves Iran, Russia, and/or China, then I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about it.