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Somali Pirates to America: You Started It!

It's easy to characterize hijackin', ransomin' third-world pirates as old-fashioned Disney fiction. But the Los Angeles Times, who apparently has some speed-dials in dangerous waters, proves -- in today's "Deaths of Americans at hands of Somali pirates a troubling escalation in violence, experts say" -- that modern-day Captain Hooks are every bit as tech-savvy as the next crook.

Reporter Scott Gold speaks with the Somali pirates involved in the recent murders of four Los Angeles sailors/missionaries, and gets a surprisingly clear rationale.

'Twas a simple matter of self defense on private property, claims the talkative pirate, Liban Muse (cool name, not-so-cool dude), who's playing a downright kindergarten game of "who started it":

[Muse], a member of the pirate group involved in the incident, told The Times in a telephone interview from the Somali coast that the U.S. military fired first.

"We had no intention of killing the hostages until the Americans began shooting at us," Muse said. "Our preference is only to take ships and ransom money, not to kill. But governments are targeting and killing our people."

Whoa. It's almost as if he sees looting and pillaging as a legit livelihood.

The U.S. military, however, is calling BS on that account:

On Tuesday morning, the pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett, which missed, according to the U.S. military. As some pirates came on deck with hands raised, as if trying to surrender, a team of 15 Navy SEALs boarded the yacht amid small-arms fire. President Obama had authorized the use of force if the military determined that the hostages' lives were in imminent danger, the White House said.

"The intent always had been that this would be a negotiated process and not ever go into a point where we actually had gunfire," said Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of U.S. naval forces in the region.

When the U.S. forces boarded the yacht ... all four hostages already had been shot.

Emily Elizabeth Sem, the daughter of victims Jean and Scott Adams, isn't taking pirate speak for gold, either, judging by her FBI-issued statement last night:

"We would also like to thank the FBI and State Department for their swift and kind treatment of this matter. Our hearts also go out to the families of Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay. We cannot thank you all enough."

The missionaries had recently split from the Blue Water Round World Rally-recommended route, deciding instead to forge their own way across the Indian Ocean -- where, according to CNN, "some 685 sailors are currently being held for ransom aboard 30 ships off the Somali coastline, according to the International Maritime Organization."

After the gunfire had ceased, four Americans and four Somalis lay dead. And, according to City News Service, over a dozen pirates involved in the hijacking are now facing prosecution in the U.S.

So who wins? That's still up for debate, but one 21st century Times source proves he's not above playing the blame game -- or the pity card. None here, Muse.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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