Why capture an american?

Whether an american is held hostage in this country or out of country, the fact that the hostage holder comes away with any materialistic gain is simply out of the question. This is a policy we obviously hold on to in a strong manner. Although the hostage might eventually be killed, the killer essentially comes away with nothing, and will most likely be killed himself if this happens. Why does this still happen? Do you think there are other things to deter other Americans from being held hostage? This is mainly directed at the pirates, there mabe some religions where people will be awarded in their heaven for this but I dont think the pirates are like that. They seem to simply be doing it for the money. There have been billions paid to these pirates from other countries for ransom, but American will never do this. The fact than an American flag is flying on the boat seems like it would be a deterent but it seems to be otherwise

I would just like to add that the ability of this snipers to snipe from boat to boat in choppy seas at night is simply awsome. Im pretty proud of our well trained seals. Some might dissagree with the killing due to consequenses of prisoners from other countries but I can’t help but smile when I read about what they were able to do.

I think I read somewhere that the ages of the pirates ranged from 19-22 so it is quite possible that they were simply naive to the American Navv’s capabilities.

According to this story their ages were even lower, 17-19. I seriously doubt that they were up to date on American polices of no payment when dealing with hostages.

I don’t know why other countries don’t copy us on this issue? The ages and the fact they dont know how we operate might be true, but from what I heard on the news about the killings they were even more eager to capture more Americans, if ransom money is how they are financially able to operate why do this? I guess they might think the will do this on the side and live off other weaker contries.

Hardly; recall our little arms for hostages deal in the Iran/Contra scandal ? They have no reason to think that they might not be able to get something out of us. Even after we killed some pirates, there’s no reason for other pirates to not think we won’t turn around and pay them off tomorrow.

I came in to mention Iran/Contra. There are times when taking Americans hostage is a pretty profitable enterprise.

To date, the amount of money the pirates have extracted is closer to $150M or less–still a substantial sum.

A policy of non-negotiation and non-payment requires consistent execution–something notably lacking in our government. It’s one of those things where the current price–the safety of hostages–is difficult to pay, even when the long-term cost–total lives endangered–is reduced.

I agree, and argue elsewhere, that we need a firm policy of non-negotiation, and the price the pirates pay for taking hostages is their own death or imprisonment. I would be surprised if the weak US government and the even weaker US public, is willing to actually carry out such a policy. They may provide lip service, but in practice will resort to “case by case” backpedaling.

In the specific case of Somali pirates, the pirates themselves are witless, undereducated pawns. They are nevertheless not on suicide missions for a noble cause, and will turn to easier targets if the US remains consistent in not negotiating. There will be a little bluster on their part in the short term, but in the long run they’d rather mug old ladies with freely hanging purses than a target whose protectors will try to kill them.

Why does everyone think that the ransoms are paid by countries? I’ve seen this assumption several times now on different forums.

They’re not. The ransom is paid by the company that owns the ship. Private corporations, not national governments. A national government’s policy on whether or not to pay ransoms is completely irrelevant to whether a private corporation decides to pay up.

Really? You wouldn’t hesitate at all due to the possibility that the government will throw the book at you for funding piracy/organised crime/terrorism? Or do you plan to hide the fact that over a million dollars in cash vanished from your books about the time that the pirates released your ship for no apparent reason?

You would actually consider going after companies who try to get their employees released?

It is only irrelevant to the extent that the country under whose flag the ship is flying takes no position on it.

Sure, if they’re paying money to people who will fund terrorist activities, or encourage more kidnapping. The logic is harsh but it holds true.

I think the actual answer to my question is that Americans want to believe that those pinko European govts are paying off pirates while the bastion of the free world is not going to take any shit from anyone. It doesn’t occur to anyone that it isn’t countries that are paying the ransoms because they’re too busy chanting USA! USA! USA!

Most big cargo ships are registered under flags of convenience. Big shipping companies by their very nature are multinational corporations. I seriously doubt that jurisdiction could even be made to apply to a ship that’s registered in Panama, crewed by Bangladeshis, and hijacked in international waters, no matter who actually owns the company that owns the ship.

It also gets people killed and screws with trade.

Contrasting with the 200+ people currently being held hostage?

Yup. If you tell the companies those people work for “don’t try to rescue your employees or we will charge you with supporting terrorists,” how’s that going to work out for the hostages, and why would anyone work for the shipping companies?

The French have repeatedly used their special forces to counter-attack pirates that have taken French hostages for ransom, sometimes successfully and sometimes with casualties. Despite the success of the recent American operation, there is plenty of risk involved with this type of thing.

Plenty of other military forces have either defended or counter-attacked the pirates, including the British, Russians, and Malaysians to name a few:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ships_attacked_by_Somali_pirates

No matter the nationality of the hostages, a lot of the pirate attacks are unsuccessful or even result in dead pirates, but that doesn’t seem to deter them. I don’t see the American response or ability to respond as being unique enough to cause the pirates extra worry. They probably consider Americans as worth more money, thus making it worth any perceived increase in risk.

You assume that the only way to rescue your employees is to give criminals millions of dollars. Aren’t you forgetting something?

See theR’s post. The military is an option and I’m sure military patrols in the area are going to increase, unless they are in a position to prevent and resolve these kinds of things close to 100 percent of the time without hostages dying, the governments are in no position to tell companies not to pay, much less treat them like criminals. If it were that easy to free hostages without paying, nobody would pay.

America can have jurisdiction over a ship of US registry, over an American company, over American nationals etc but it has no jurisdiction over ships flying a foreign flag, over foreign companies etc. Now, how many times the ship, the owner of the ship, the charterer of the ship, the insurer of the ship, the cargo of the ship, etc. are all American and subject to American law? That would be extremely rare. And there is little America can do legally if one of those concerned is not subject to American law. And, since ships under american registry are about as rare as spotted owls and since generally any shipment involves companies in several countries and jurisdictions I think it is not easy at all for America to deny foreign companies the possibility of paying whatever suits them. And America need not find out because the money can be paid by a subsidiary of a supplier of the company which is related to the insurer of the shirt worn by the captain of the ship.