Sunday, July 19, 2009

MV Faina cargo: 100 tanks were ordered by Government of South Sudan

Last February, Andrew Mwangura, a Kenyan pirate negotiator who receives no payment for his negotiating work, helped secure the release of a Ukrainian ship, MV Faina, hijacked off the coast of Somalia.  The ship was carrying Russian-made tanks and weapons. A ransom of $3.2m (£2m) was paid after months of negotiations.  The pirates had initially demanded more than tenfold that amount. At the time of the hijacking, Mr Mwangura was arrested for suggesting the arms on board were bound for South Sudan, something the Kenyan government denied.   

Mwangura, who heads the non-profit East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme which works to free ships held by Somali sea raiders, is set to be the subject of a Hollywood film.  Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L Jackson plans to star as Mwangura.  For sources and further details click on the label 'Faina' at the end of this blog post.

Now, here is another twist to the story.  According to the following report, 100 tanks were ordered by the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and the MV Faina cargo was the last of three shipments of weapons bound for South Sudan.

From Jane's
IMINT tracks T-72 tanks towards South Sudan
By Lauren Gelfand and Allison Puccioni
07 July 2009
In September 2008 a Ukrainian-owned ship sailing towards the Kenyan port at Mombasa was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. The vessel, the MV Faina, captured public attention for its cargo: 33 T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs), weapons and ammunition and documents that identified the recipient as the government of South Sudan.

Officials confirmed to Jane's that the Faina cargo was the last of three shipments of weapons bound for the south. Published reports highlighted a previous shipment from Ukraine, which moved north in February 2008, comprising T-72s and assorted artillery, as well as a first shipment that had arrived in Mombasa in November 2007. In total, military and diplomatic sources confirmed to Jane's, 100 MBTs were ordered by South Sudan.

A 2005 agreement was meant to bring peace to the fractured nation; the reality, however, is a country still riven and fractured.

A ransom was paid to liberate the Faina in February and it arrived at Mombasa. The tanks were offloaded and transported to Kahawa barracks outside Nairobi, where they were to remain in the possession of the Kenyan military. Since March, however, eyewitness reports, some corroborated by photographic evidence, have placed the tanks elsewhere. At the same time, extensive construction has been ongoing at a military compound of the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

Jane's began an extensive satellite imagery canvass of the area in March, aiming to trace the movement of T-72s from Mombasa towards South Sudan. While the analysis does not conclude that the tanks aboard the Faina were in transit towards their ostensible rightful owners, it does show a pattern of tanks making their way north.

IMINT tracks T-72 tanks towards South Sudan

A first image captured by DigitalGlobe in March 2009 showed 33 tanks parked at Kahawa Barracks northeast of Nairobi (Source: Jane's - Image copyright DigitalGlobe Inc)
Hat tip: Rob Crilly, 18 July 2009 -- The Tanks That Won't Go Away

Ukrainian ship MV Faina

Photo: MV Faina, a hijacked Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks, is seen from a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden, in this handout from the U.S. Navy, September 29, 2008. Three Somali pirates were killed in a shootout between rivals aboard a hijacked Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks, a maritime group monitoring the situation said on Tuesday. But the pirates denied any fighting on the MV Faina, seized six days ago in the most high-profile of a wave of hijackings off lawless Somalia this year. The pirates, under U.S. navy surveillance, are demanding a $20 million ransom. (Source:  Reuters/U.S. Navy-Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Zalasky/Handout (SOMALIA). FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. 

Click on Faina label here below to see related reports and latest updates.

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