Somali pirates have murdered the four American hostages aboard a captured yacht, hijacked off the coast of Oman last Friday, and sailed back to Somali waters. A U.S. Navy warship that was shadowing the yacht has reportedly responded by killing the pirates.
The victims were Scott Adam, his wife Jean, and their friends Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle. The Adams were from Marina del Rey, California, while Macay and Riggle were from Seattle. According to CBS News, Scott Adam earned his fortune as an associate producer in Hollywood, then turned “in a spiritual direction and enrolled in the seminary a decade ago.” He and his wife spent half of every year sailing around the world, “distributing Bibles in remote parts of the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia.”
An ABC News report on the incident included some recycled Associated Press text, which explained that “The pirates from Puntland in northern Somalia are not hardline Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem.” Well, something became a problem, because these four innocent hostages were executed by gunshot in the hour after midnight.
General James Mattis of the U.S. Central Command expressed “deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest.” There has not yet been an official reaction from the White House. The reaction should be a declaration of war.
The historical remedy for piracy is the destruction of their port cities, but that seems unlikely in this case. Every Somali surface vessel should be given a warning to return to port, and then blown out of the water by the United States Navy, in a blockade to be maintained indefinitely until a stable government exists in Somlia. (Yes, “indefinitely” means a very long time).
There is no reason for any Somali boat to ride the ocean waves – their meager shipping needs can be handled by carefully monitored commercial vessels, and they can be allowed small fishing boats close to shore. Protecting the huge amount of commercial and private sea traffic in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Gulf of Aden would require a massive fleet, standing guard and awaiting action at the convenience of pirates. Aggressively hunting down and killing Somali boats is a much more practical use of our limited but powerful naval resources, and transfers the initiative to our Navy instead of the pirates. It’s time to take the initiative.