Posted by MataHarley on 13 April, 2009 at 8:54 am. 11 comments already!


I mentioned in my yesterday post that the Somali hostage event was bringing the piracy situation to a new head.

UPDATE: At the time of my posting, the Congressman was int he air, and his DC offices were not sure of his destination. Per an All Africa news story, Congressman Payne’s plane diverted and has landed safely in Nairobi.

Breaking news this AM… Congressman Donald Payne felt the need to fly down to Mogadishu to “talk” about Somali piracy… only to be forced to turn around after Somali terrorists… er, “overseas contingency operations”… fired mortars at the plane.

Somali insurgents fired mortars toward U.S. Congressman Donald Payne’s plane during a visit to the Somali capital in Mogadishu.

The New Jersey Democrat was not injured, his spokeswoman Kerry McKenney told FOX News.

“One mortar landed at the airport when Payne’s plane was due to fly and five others after he left and no one was hurt,” Abukar Hassan, a police officer at Mogadishu airport, told Reuters.

McKenney said Payne, who chairs the House subcommittee on Africa, felt it was important to go to Mogadishu and see first-hand what was happening there.

His trip comes a day after U.S. sea captain Richard Phillips was rescued from four Somali pirates off Africa’s eastern coast.

“All we know is his plane was fired on and of course we feel it was in retaliation,” McKenney told FOX News.

She said Payne was traveling with bodyguards but she has not been able to speak to him directly because his plane was in the air.

Payne arrived early Monday in what is believed to be the first visit by a senior U.S. politician to Mogadishu in years, Reuters reported.

The visit was reportedly expected to last a few hours and was to include a meeting with the Somali foreign minister to talk about piracy and how the U.S. could help the government there.

It was not immediately clear if the meeting took place.

Another update on Payne’s reason for visiting from the above UPDATE linked All Africa article:

According to Congressional and administration officials, Payne was discouraged by the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies from visiting the Somali capital, which has not had a visit from an American official in many years. Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer visited Baidoa, a city in south-central Somalia, in 2007.

Payne decided to make the journey to press for a peaceful solution to the unrest that has dominated Somalia for three decades. Payne, who was elected to Congress in 1988, chairs the House of Representatives Subcommittee Africa and Global Health and is the point-person on Africa for the Congressional Black Caucus.

In the wake of the US confrontation, and the pirate’s threats, will that not-so-clear link between Somali jihad groups that enjoy haven in chaotic Somalia become more overt? Will the jihad movements team up with their “fisherman/pirate” friends officially now? We can only wait and see. What is not so clear is just with whom these so-called “pirates” deal when getting their weaponry.

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