A permanent solution to the piracy problem requires “something happening on land,” according to Martin Murphy, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in Washington, D.C. With Somalia’s 18-year-old civil war still raging, some say even escalating, there is little hope of resolving the piracy crisis at its source. But pirate networks have another land-based weakness, one that’s perhaps being neglected: in Kenya, where pirate chiefs base important parts of their operations. As long as Somalia itself remains inaccessible to law-enforcement efforts, Kenya is where the world must begin rolling back the land-based organizations that support pirates.
While small gangs of armed men riding in fast skiffs are the dramatic face of piracy, these men are just the foot soldiers of sophisticated criminal enterprises in which major infrastructure is land-based. The most successful pirates — those with the weapons and intelligence to pull off attacks on supertankers hundreds of miles from land — are employed by wealthy criminal bosses, many of them expatriates, and draw on information provided by paid sources inside key Kenyan maritime agencies.
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