Somali pirates get help from expats in Canada
Cut of ransom ends up in North America via money-wiring services
Dec 11, 2008 04:30 AM
MOGADISHU–A dramatic spike in piracy in African waters this year is backed by an international network of mostly Somali expatriates stretching as far as Canada, say law enforcement officials, researchers and the pirates themselves.
The expatriates, including reputedly some among the 200,000 Somalis living in Canada, offer funds, equipment and information in exchange for a cut of the ransoms, according to those familiar with the phenomenon.
With help from the network, Somali pirates have brought in at least $30 million (U.S.) in ransom so far this year, they say.
Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Centre, an organization based in St. Paul, Minn., with ties to Toronto, says the network is "an open secret within the (Somali) community."
"We know the money flows through the east coast of the Gulf of Aden to Mogadishu, and eventually ends up in North America through money-wiring services," he told the Star's Nick Aveling.
The RCMP was unavailable for comment when contacted last night.
The deals with "investors" appear to be fairly informal, with family or clan networks stretching overseas.
Most refugees to Canada nowadays are the mobile middle and upper classes of the developing world because it costs money to travel to Canada to make a refugee claim and these people have access to the funds to do it. Somalis are no exception. When we thought we were providing refuge to a desperate and war weary people of the conflict stricken Somalia we were most likely providing a life line to the people and their relatives responsible for starting the civil war and for Somalia's inability to organize a stable government. It was no accident that Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed's second wife, Khagida Gurhan, and four of his children were living in Canada and on welfare in London, Ontario. I deeply suspect that many of the Somalis that Canada granted refuge to and eventual citizenship have clan and family ties to warlord leaders in Somalia.
The above story only further cements my suspicions. Who else would have the contacts to the pirates to send them funds in exchange for a return on their "investment." What's more disconcerting is that the Canadian tax payer is unwittingly supporting the Somali pirates because the Somali community in Canada is still dependent on welfare payments to a certain extent. So it goes like this. Canadians give their money to support the families of Somali warlords living in Canada who then send this money to Somalia to not only fund the conflict but to support the operations of the Somali pirates. Now not all Somalis living in Canada are doing this but it has to be a significant number if Canada is singled out in the Associated Press release.
I don't know how the RCMP is going to approach this if the allegations in the story are true. If they are then charges should be laid and deportations ordered if a connection to the pirates can be established but that may be a lot harder then it sounds so I expect nothing will be done.