SUDAN WATCH: Israeli owner of MV Faina pays $3.2m ransom - Its cargo destined for Darfur? JEM has received heavy military logistical support from Israel?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Israeli owner of MV Faina pays $3.2m ransom - Its cargo destined for Darfur? JEM has received heavy military logistical support from Israel?

Pirates receive $3.2 m for Israeli ship
February 3, 2009 report from Press TV Iran:
The Israeli-owner of a Ukrainian-flagged arms-loaded ship held by Somali pirates pays 3.2 million dollars in return for the vessel's release.

The MV Faina and its crew-- 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian national-were captured on September 25 in the notorious Somali waters.

The vessel was carrying with a cargo of 33 Soviet-type battle tanks, rocket launchers and ammunition, allegedly expected to reach rebels in the Sudanese violent Darfur region.

On Tuesday, a plane from South Africa carrying $ 3.2 million dropped the demanded ransom onto the Faina upon an agreement between the pirates and the ship's owner, Press TV correspondent reported.

The pirates said they will release the ship in a few hours, as soon as they count the sum and confirm there are no warships to hunt them.

The news comes after the Israeli owner of the vessel had earlier refused to hold talks with the bandits, who had repeatedly threatened the lives of the crew members unless they were paid a multi-million ransom.

The capture of the arms-laden ship four months ago triggered a controversy over the cargo's final destination.

The pirates' spokesman Sugule Ali said in October that the ship was originally destined for Sudan using the Kenyan port city of Mombasa as a stopover.

Sudan's state media also revealed the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Darfur's most powerful rebel group, has received considerably heavy military logistical support from Israel. MRS/DT
Last year, I followed this story closely and published several reports on the hijacking of MV Faina but this is the first time I've seen it said that MV Faina was Israeli owned and that its cargo was expected to reach rebels in Darfur. Rumours were that the cargo was destined for Southern Sudan. Interesting. Can it be true that JEM has received considerably heavy military logistical support from Israel? The world's media covered the MV Faina story and (unless I've missed something) nobody mentioned that the vessel was Israeli owned. After five years of the world's spotlight being put on Darfur, we still don't know what is going on in the secret world of the Darfur rebel leaders and their shadowy financiers. I wonder why.

UPDATE (5 minutes later)
I've just remembered this. See my blog Kenya Watch, October 08, 2008: A businessman from Odessa with an Israeli passport is the man behind Russian tanks shipment destined for Govt of South Sudan (GOSS) via Mombasa?

Also, see Sudan Watch - October 09, 2008: MV Faina cargo was for Ethiopia? NATO agrees to join anti-piracy operations off coast of Somalia: seven of its frigates will arrive within two weeks

Sudan Watch - October 31, 2008: Ukraine says military hardware carried by hijacked Ukrainian ship MV Faina had been officially sold to Kenya

GOSS = Government of South Sudan?
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Somali pirates announce immediate release of Ukrainian ship
February 3, 2009 report from Xinhua (NAIROBI) Editor Yang Lina:
Somali pirates who have been holding a Ukrainian ship with military weapons on board have announced their intention to immediately release the ship along with its 20 crew members.

Andrew Mwangura, East Africa's Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said the pirates may very soon release the MV Faina which was captured in September with its 20-man crew and a cargo of Soviet-era T-72 tanks.

"We have heard that the pirates are willing to release the ship.This may be possible because the pirates are in direct contacts with the ship owners," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone on Tuesday.

The development came after Ukraine's foreign ministry urged theowner of the Faina vessel to publicly report on progress made in the talks to free the crew.

The Ukrainian ministry said the ship owner is in talks with the pirates and is informed of the details of the negotiations.

The MV Faina is currently moored off Somalia's coast close to the town of Hobyo. There have been conflicting reports of where the Faina and its cargo were destined.

Kenya has insisted that the shipment was destined for its military. But regional diplomats said it was bound for the autonomous government of south Sudan, in possible contravention ofa peace accord.

The waters off the Somali coast are considered to be some of the world's most dangerous. Pirates have hijacked several ships last year and attacked many more.

Most attacks have been in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and north Somalia, a major route leading to the Suez Canal linking Europe and Asia.
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