Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 9


After a brief lull in piracy during the rein of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union, the current instability in the country is once again being exploited by pirates. On April 2, pirates took control of the Indian-flagged MV Nimatullah merchant ship and its 14-member crew off the coast of Mogadishu (Capital FM Radio [Nairobi], April 3). The head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers’ Assistance Program, Andrew Mwangura, told journalists that the hijackers had demanded $20,000 for the return of the ship and crew. After a ransom was allegedly paid, the pirates released the ship and crew on April 6. One day after the April 2 hijacking, another ship, the MV Nishan, was attacked by pirates near Mogadishu, but it managed to flee the scene. When the ICU began consolidating power in Somalia last year, they attempted to tackle piracy and in August 2006 they took a series of port towns—such as Hobyo, Harardheere and Eldher—and pushed the pirates into hiding (Hirran Online, August 13). Piracy had been a lucrative business in Somalia, and the warlords that ruled the country before the ICU takeover used the illegal business to fund their militias (Terrorism Focus, August 22, 2006). With the Islamists out of power, it appears that piracy is again on the rise.


On April 6, a suicide bomber driving a truck filled with TNT and chlorine gas detonated his cache at a police checkpoint in Ramadi province, killing 27 people (Daily Star, April 7). The use of chlorine gas in attacks has become a pattern in Iraq, with insurgents using this strategy about half a dozen times this year (Terrorism Focus, February 27). A few days before the April 6 attack, an Iraqi Interior Minister spokesperson told al-Hayat on April 2 that the government’s intelligence services had identified the sources that supply insurgents with chlorine. One spokesperson said that the “main sources of the chlorine are the water purification plants,” while another outlined how “the Interior Ministry has asked the other ministries that import such a substance to limit their imports to quantities needed by each ministry.” More ominous, however, were the statements from a Defense Ministry official who warned that armed groups may begin to employ more “lethal substances” that were leftover from the former Iraqi government or taken from old materials that were used in glass and phosphate plants in al-Anbar Province (al-Hayat, April 2).


On March 27, The Jamestown Foundation reported that Iraq’s 1920 Revolution Brigades had split into two separate corps, the al-Jihad al-Islami (Islamic Jihad) Corps and the al-Fatih al-Islami (Islamic Conquest) Corps (Terrorism Focus, March 27). On March 29, however, the al-Jihad al-Islami Corps announced on that it was reclaiming the name of the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The other breakaway corps, al-Fatih al-Islami, has already announced that it will now be called Hamas-Iraq.