London emerges as intelligence hub of Somali pirates'

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London, May 12 (ANI): British capital London has emerged as the intelligence hub of Somali pirates, a report has claimed.

For example, when the 14 crew aboard the Karagöl, a 5850 ton Turkish chemical tanker was swiftly overpowered, they did not know that their ship had been singled out as a target by a network of informers based several thousand miles away - in London.

The Guardina quotes security officials as saying that well-placed informants in the British capital, the world centre of shipbroking and insurance, gather so much detail on targets that, in the case of the Karagöl, they not only knew its layout, route and cargo, but had also spent several days practicing the assault.

The attack on the Turkish ship was a sign that the pirates have turned a regional phenomenon into a global criminal business that now reaches into the heart of London's shipping community.

"They made regular calls from the ship to London," said Haldun Dincel, general manager of Turkey's Yardimci shipping company, who negotiated the release of their ship. The calls were made on satellite phones the pirates brought with them.

Speaking by telephone from Istanbul, Dincel said today that London was one of a number of centres the pirates contacted regularly after the tanker had been sailed to the Somali coast and senior gang members had boarded and taken control.

"Every day the chief of the pirates got in touch with people from London, Dubai and some from the Yemen," he said.

At least one of the four or five major pirate groups that are now carrying out the attacks has London-based "consultants" to help them choose their targets, according to a European military intelligence report leaked to Spain's Cadena SER radio station yesterday.

The report has been circulated around those countries, including Britain, that are involved in the European Union's Operation Atalanta to protect ships against piracy in the area.

The EU report said information being passed to the pirates was often extracted from the international organisations that control or track the world's shipping.

The national flag of the vessel was also taken into account when choosing a target, with British vessels apparently being increasingly avoided, the report said. (ANI)

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