Saturday, December 25, 2010

US suggests paying ransom to Somali captors

The US government has suggested that the government should negotiate with the Somali pirates by paying ransom for the release of 26 Bangladeshis on board the hijacked ship Jahan Moni.

The state department also told Dhaka that the Somali pirates would be interested in releasing the captives with comparatively less amount of money as it’s a ‘lean season’ for the captors.
Washington also revealed that ‘money was the sole objective’ behind the hostage taking.
The state department made the suggestions as Bangladesh government sought US support for the release of the hostages.
On December 15, the state department’s bureau of South and Central Asia gave the suggestion to Bangladesh mission in Washington.
First secretary MJH Jabed was present at the meeting, which was also attended by counter-terrorism adviser Erik Pye, senior naval adviser Captain Jeffrey D Frederick and counter-piracy officer William P Astillero. obtained a copy of the letter containing US suggestion, which was sent by the Bangladesh mission.
‘At this monsoon time when the pirates pass through a lean phase, they are more eager for an early flow of money even if that is less than their expectation,’ said the letter.
‘Bangladesh should take advantage of that and approach the right intermediary for settling the issue,’ it said.
‘We sought opinion from the US government and they gave it. We are yet to decide about it,’ the shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, told on Friday.
He said the government would continue its efforts to secure the release of the captives.
‘We support the efforts of the government of Bangladesh to secure the safe return of the crew of the hijacked vessel,’ US embassy spokesperson Patricia Hill told on Friday.
Media reports suggest that the Somali pirates usually release the hostages in exchange for thousands of dollars as ransom.
The foreign minister, Dipu Moni, last week told journalists that no state could pay ransom in any case.
There are instances that the pirates killed hostages as the vessel owners did not pay ransom. In 2007, the pirates killed a Chinese national as the owners refused to pay the ransom, according to Wikipedia.
‘The US officials dismissed any other motive than money which prompted the pirates to hijack the ship,’ said the letter.
‘Experiences have shown that pirates generally behave well with their captives and they welcome ‘negotiation’ since harming the latter or annoying any state authority goes against their ultimate interests,’ it said.
The US officials confirmed that Bangladesh had no fault for the hijacking.
The US officials suggested that Dhaka should seek advice from Delhi for the hostages’ release as India faced similar situation in 2006.
Somali pirates hijacked the Bangladesh vessel Jahan Moni, with 26 Bangladeshis on board, on December 5.
The state department officials informed the government that at present 22 vessels were under the pirates’ custody.

-New Age

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