WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- Kenya is trying Somali pirates captured by U.S. Marines aboard a hijacked Indian ship off the Somali Coast.
The Standard newspaper reported on Friday that Assistant Commissioner of Police Charles Juma told Senior Principal Magistrate Beatrice Jaden that the defendants had two Soviet-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers in their possession at the time of their arrest.
On Jan. 16, the defendants hijacked the Indian-registered dhow Safina Al Bisarat in the Indian Ocean, as it was sailing to Dubai from Kismayu.
The US Navy destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill located the dhow five days later after receiving a report that pirates had attacked the Bahamian-flagged Delta Ranger bulk carrier 200 miles off Somalia's central eastern coast.
After unsuccessful attempts to contact the dhow, the Churchill began "aggressive maneuvering" to stop the vessel. After firing warning shots, the pirates surrendered. A search of the vessel discovered 16 Indian crewmen and 10 Somali pirates along with a small arms cache. The pirates were flown to Mombassa and turned over to Kenyan authorities.
The defendants are Hassan Mohamed, Diwan Maalim, Abdikadir Labhale, Hussein Noor Ali, Abdi Ali, Mukhtar Mohamed Hassan, Mohamed Ali Farah, Mohamed Abdi Fitah, Mohamed Mahamud Juma and Aweh Mohamed Hassan. The men have all denied hijacking the MV Al Safina Bisarat. The trial continues.
The United Nations Security Council is urging member states to deploy warships and military aircraft off the coast of Somalia to combat piracy.
The U.N.'s International Maritime Organization press service reported Friday that the Security Council "encourages Member States whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate in international waters and airspace adjacent to the coast of Somalia to be vigilant to any incident of piracy therein and to take appropriate action to protect merchant shipping, in particular the transportation of humanitarian aid, against any such act, in line with relevant international law."
The Security Council recommendation follows resolution A.979-24, which was passed by the 24th session of IMO's Assembly in November 2005.
The IMO resolution condemned all acts of piracy against merchantmen and has appealed to all IMO members who might be able to take action within the constraints of international law to assist any mariners under attack and repel all pirate attempts.
After the IMO Assembly adopted the resolution, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos submitted it to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for further action.
There have so far been at least four piracy attacks off the Somali coast in 2006. In the latest incident on March 13. five pirates armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades tried to hijack the MV Rozen, which the U.N.'s World Food Program had chartered to transport food for drought victims in Somalia. The ship managed to out-run the pirates and also rammed their vessel.
Turkish authorities are preparing for possible unrest during Kurdish celebrations of the Nawrus spring festival.
The Counter-Terrorism High Commission is meeting for only the third time since the Justice and Development Party won the 2002 general elections to discuss possible precautions to be taken ahead of the festivities.
The newspaper Zaman reported Friday that Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul presided over the Counter-Terror High Commission meeting. Among its other duties, the CTHC investigates potential violent incidents during Nawrus festivals held in Turkey's major cities.
The commission meeting focused on intelligence reports related to the People's Kurdish Party possibly disrupting Nawrus celebrations. The commission also recommended encouraging the use of Turkish flags during the celebrations and the possibility of the security forces having to cope with possible illegal protest demonstrations.
The government will deploy increased numbers of security forces in urban centers to guard against disruptions.
During the commission meeting, Gul announced that a new head office is being established to combat terror under the aegis of the prime minister's office to coordinate counter-terrorist activity.
The Pakistan-U.S. joint Defense Consultative Group will meet in Washington on May 1.
It will be the 17th session of the group, which was revived in 2003 after having been moribund since 1997. The 16th session of the joint group was held in Islamabad in February 2005.
Aaj television reported Friday that all aspects of U.S.-Pakistani defense relations would be discussed during the meeting, including the war against terrorism, the security situation along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, joint military training and the sale of U.S. military equipment to Pakistan, including F-16s.
Of Pakistan's original 40 F-16 nuclear-capable fighter-bombers, 32 remain in service in three squadrons. Pakistan had ordered 71 additional F-16s in 1989 but delivery was suspended in 1990 by the United States under the Pressler Amendment because of Washington's displeasure over Islamabad's nuclear weapons program.
In 1985, the Pressler Amendment, Section 620E(e) was added to the Foreign Assistance Act, requiring the U.S. president to certify to Congress that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device during the fiscal year for which aid is to be provided. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has been moving towards repairing its military relations with Pakistan.
In June 2004, President George W. Bush designated Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. And in March 2005, the United States announced that it would resume sales of F-16 fighters to Pakistan. Media reports state that Washington may offer Pakistan up to 55 new and 25 used F-16s later this year.
Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt Gen. Tariq Waseem Ghazi will lead the Pakistani team.
The Bush administration has been quietly attempting to transfer some of its Guantanamo detainees back to their home countries for further detention. Not all countries receiving them continue their detention, however.
On March 13, Yemen's Specialized State Security Penal Court Judge Najeeb al-Qaderi in the capital Sanaa acquitted former Guantanamo detainee Karama Khamis of drug trafficking.
Khamis, also known as Karama Saeed Khomaisan and Khamis Al-Mulaiki, was arrested and handed over to the United States in November 2001 by Pakistani troops during the military offensive that drove the Taliban from power.
The Yemen Times reported on March 16 that U.S. investigators eventually concluded that Khamis was in fact involved in Afghanistan's drug trade rather than terrorism, being paid an initial $13,000 for a drug transaction. Before he was arrested Khamis had managed to smuggle $500,000 worth of drugs from Afghanistan to Yemen.
In mid-2004 U.S. authorities, finding no evidence linking Khamis to either al-Qaida or the Taliban, removed him from Guantanamo and transferred him to Yemeni custody.
Prosecutors appealed his release and charged him with drug trafficking.