Africa’s Cocaine Cowboys

I guess some of the funding from “charities” isn’t making its way to Al-Qaeda members in West Africa.  They have taken the initiative over the last 5 or so years and gotten themselves involved in the smuggling business, cocaine smuggling that is.  There are a lot of people in Europe who demand cocaine.  Drug cartels who produce the narcotic in South America want to meet the high demand,  but are not so excited in moving it all the way across the Atlantic ocean to Europe.  It is not easy, and it is very expensive.  Getting the product into the United States is literally easy(which it is not in large quantities) in comparison to going all the way to Europe.  Their smaller boats, which are easier to sneak by the US Coast Guard undetected, don’t have the range, and the security around European ports are just too risky.  That is not to say that it is not done everyday, but not nearly to the scale to that which is done in the United States’ waters.

This difficulty in getting the South American cocaine to Europe has consumers paying double, in some places even quadruple the amount a consumer would pay in the US.  But over the last decade(longer than that, but wasn’t as noticeable) cocaine cartels began shipping their products to middle men in west African nations.  Here they found it much easier to deliver their product to consumers in Europe without risking their own boats and men.  Sure, it may take longer, but if you deliver enough cocaine, it will add up longer down the road.  In 2007, the United Nations reported on the cocaine trafficking in west Africa.  The links between the trafficking and violence fit right together in areas where cocaine is brought in.  It now appears that Al-Qaeda members couldn’t resist the temptation to serve as the profitable middle men.

Al-Qaeda getting involved in the drug smuggling game for profit isn’t anything new.  It was believed they were using the poppy plants in Afghanistan to produce cheap heroin for export to countries like Iran, Pakistan, and up into Russia.  The same will be done in Africa.  They will see huge profits and the ability to buy weapons and political power in their region of operations through intimidation.

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Libya Update:

The pressure is mounting on the Libyan supporters of Gaddafi.  NATO airstrikes have increased their sorties after complaints from opposition forces.  It has been nearly 2 months since the no-fly zone was implemented and the central government is still fighting.  A military spokesman for Libya was reportedly killed in a airstrike.  Whatever the objective long or short term is, eliminating Gaddafi either through surrender, or by killing him should be the highest priority.  When the head of the snake is gone, the rest will quickly topple after.  Here are some hot stories coming out;

ICC prosecutor targets Gaddafi as NATO steps up raids: link

Army Assisting Libya Operations with RAF: link 

NATO airstrike kills Libyan military spokesman – media: link 

Libya: Italy says Gaddafi ‘political exit’ being planned: link 

NATO reaches Gaddafi forces on Libyan army radio: link 

Tunisian source: Libyan oil minister defects: link 

Sea-based IEDs Make Debut Off Libyan Coast: link 

UK steps up bombing of Gaddafi targets: link 

Whacky Weekend: Porn, Disney, Pirates, Fratricide, and Libya

Mickey Mouse welcomes the Navy SEALs

If the discovery of pornography at bin Laden’s Pakistani compound wasn’t shocking enough, maybe the commercialization of the now famed “SEAL Team Six” is.  Never ceasing at an opportunity to a potential money maker, Disney will now have trademark rights to produce clothing and other toys.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a cartoon aimed for America’s youth that resembled G.I. Joe.  The members of that team are hero’s and should be seen as role models for out nations youth.

Another sad case of fratricide in Afghanistan.  There seems to be a considerable rise of Afghan policeman opening fire on NATO soldiers.  The strategy seems to be a new tactic by the Taliban.  Have someone join the military and pretend to be a loyal nationalist soldier, then when the opportunity arrives, attack the unsuspecting US soldiers.  It is a very nasty method because we now are going to develop problems with trusting relationships with the Afghan police.  Always having the thought of a “friend” attacking you at any time in the back of your mind can’t be comforting.

A pirates nightmare

Reports are coming in that a NATO warship blew up a Somali pirate boat this weekend, apparently with a shoulder fired missile.  A guided missile would be a very effective weapon at destroying surface ships.  .50 caliber machine guns are effective and cheaper, but a guided missile has the range, accuracy, and psychological effect that will send a stronger message.  Maybe we will see the use of shoulder fired guided missiles go up in the battle against pirates.

President Obama has assured everyone that actions in Libya will continue until Gaddafi is out of power.  Some of the higher ranking Libyan rebels were in Washington DC visiting with White House officials.  As they hustle to put together some form of post-Gaddafi government.  Rebels have claimed to have made significant gains on the ground against loyalist forces.  Bombings of Tripoli were stepped up last week in an effort to change the “stalemate” forming on the ground.  As I have mentioned earlier, if you want fast results, its either all or nothing.

Weekend Articles of Interest:

bin Laden Aftermath;

Intrigue surrounds fate of stealth helo wreckage: link

We Have Found bin Laden’s Porn: link

Disney Trademarks “SEAL Team 6”: link

Pakistan Spy Chief Offers Resignation : link

Post-Osama, Pakistan threatens to cut NATO’s supply line: link 

Bin Laden was logged off, but not al-Qaida: link

Bin Laden Plotted to Kill Obama: Reports: link

Kerry in Pakistan with tough questions, meets army: link

Libyan Campaign;

Libya buries 11 imams killed in NATO strike: link

Libya denies Italian report Gadhafi may be wounded: link

“Desperate” Libya Rebels Fly Out of Washington With Encouragement, No Cash: link

Military chief urges wider targeting in Libya: link

Libya: NATO hits oil port of Ras Lanouf: link

Libya: Liam Fox rejects calls to ‘up the ante’: link

Libyan combat stymies moves on anti-aircraft threat: link

Rebels Control Misrata, But Advance Is on Hold: link

Obama says Libya mission on until Gadhafi stops: link

Tunisia pushes back Libyan troops: link

NATO sees ‘significant’ gains against Kadhafi forces: link

Libyan Rebels Plot Out Government: link

Middle East Unrest;

U.S. Presses Nuclear Case Against Damascus: link

Bomb blast destroys five NATO oil tankers in Pakistan: link

Palestinians, Israeli troops clash over teen death: link

Florida imams arrested for aiding Pakistani Taliban: link

At least 16 dead as Israeli troops clash with protesters: link

Jordan police use force to stop activists from reaching Israel border: link

Iran militia trains for anti-regime protests: report: link

Last infiltrators return to Syria after day of bloody clashes on northern borders: link

Afghan intelligence: Taliban using child bombers: link

Afghan policeman kills two NATO soldiers: link

Father, son and daughter deploy to Iraq as Apache pilots: link

A family of Apache pilots

Arab Unrest Update:

Muslims celebrate the burning of a St Mena church in Cairo

As the “Arab Spring” is gradually shifting to an “Arab Summer,” tensions are feeling the heat.  “Democracy” in Egypt is not exactly what we were hoping to take shape.  Religious violence is now beginning to halt reforms towards a democratic society.  Muslim extremists and Coptic Christians are taking to the streets to protest one another.  Churches have been burned.  Reports of rocks being thrown at one another from both sides, injuries resulting.  If there was one good thing that came from the autocratic rule, it was a professional military.  Without it, the place would be almost a complete mess.

Bashar Al-Assad is cracking down even harder.  His methods of intimidation include arresting children as a form of punishment to protesting parents.  A human rights group claims that over 750 civilians have been killed so far.  Videos of soldiers firing on unarmed protesting civilians, and even their own “disloyal” soldiers are surfacing on youtube.  I guess everyone now would be asking the question, “Why Gaddafi, and not Assad as well?”

A NATO official, Italian Brig. Gen. Claudio Gabellini, said the alliance had no evidence to indicate whether Gadhafi was alive or dead.  He has not been seen since a April 30th airstrike that killed one of his sons.  NATO is making it clear to Gaddafi that there is no future for him in Libya.  I think that is the route NATO is hoping for now, an ultimate surrender.  Reports yesterday came in that NATO upped the airstrikes in Tripoli, preciesliy targeting pro government establishments, minimizing collateral damage.  It is still unclear of how united the Rebel forces are.  We are not sure if they are going to be as willing to practice democracy when it is all over.  Are radical Muslims joining the rebel forces and will pose a threat once Gaddafi is gone?

Yemeni security forces backed by army units open fire on protesters demanding the ouster of longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing three. In all, tens of thousands of protesters mobilize in several cities and towns, the latest installment of almost three months of daily protests. One protester is killed in the western port of Hodeida, and two are killed in the southern city of Taiz when elite Republican Guard forces tried to disperse protesters by firing in the air.

Bahrain’s king sets a fast-track timetable to end martial law-style rule in a bid to display confidence that authorities have smothered a pro-reform uprising, even as rights groups denounce the measures. The announcement to lift emergency rule two weeks early on June 1 comes hours after the start of a closed-door trial accusing activists of plotting to overthrow the Gulf state’s rulers. The decision appears part of Bahrain’s aggressive international campaign to reassure financial markets and win back high-profile events. They include the coveted Formula One grand prix that was canceled in March after deadly clashes and protests by the country’s majority Shiites, who are seeking greater rights and freedoms.  Iran is likely funneling as much money and effort into the unrest as it can, in support of the Shiites.

Avast, Jamal! Plunderin’ We Shall Go!

In case you didn’t get the memo, the newspaper, the internet news, the television news, or even over hear someone talking about it, pirating at sea is at a all-time high.  But wait, didn’t we send all those big ships down there to the Gulf of Aden to stop these rag-tag skiff-rat riding “pirates?”  Yes, we did, but always be reminded of how large that amount of water is.  The ships used as the “motherships” are likely to blend right in with local traffic in the area.  But not only are the raiders getting more active, they are growing increasingly more violent.  According to the International Maritime Bureau:

The murder of the 4 Americans aboard their yacht are showing this new aggressiveness.  Pressure from the US Navy hounding their efforts is making them go to great lengths to get their demands.  It is believed that the savages executed them even before contact with the Navy.  At least they were captured and justice for them will soon be served.  As tragic and terrible the outcome of the yacht murders, the Adams’ should have paid sharp attention to the alerts and warnings that pirates don’t care about your Bibles or it’s content, even you for that matter.  Sailing through waters dominated by Islamic bandits with 16th century thinking is a poor decision.  Did they miss the point in the last Rambo movie?

"They don't care about your Bibles"