Syria Circling The Drain

So far, we’ve seen varying degrees of serious Muslim unrest in Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, and Oman. Now, it appears that Syria is also on the verge of descending into chaos.

Thousands continue protests in Syria

Thousands of people took to the streets in the southern city of Dara, chanting “Syria, Freedom,” a day after a deadly crackdown on protests there, human rights activists said.

The demonstrations Thursday occurred at the funerals for some of those killed when government forces opened fire on protesters the previous day. Initial reports put the death toll at 15, but Reuters news agency, citing a hospital source, said more than 25 people were killed.

. . .

No additional violence was reported Thursday, but human rights activists said a number of Syrian writers and journalists who reported on the unrest in Dara had been arrested.

. . .

Presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban pledged to consider ending the emergency law in place since 1963 that has allowed the government to detain anyone without a warrant or a trial.

She said the government was also drafting a law that would allow political parties other than the ruling Baath party to operate, and loosen restrictions on news media. She also promised wage increases and health insurance for public servants.

But the human rights activists noted that the promises were not binding and pledged to move forward with their plans for Friday protests.

See also:
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad faces most serious unrest of his tenure
The Syrian revolt
Syria: patience of people running thin
Thousands Protest At Syrian Funerals
Thousands of Syrians chant “freedom” at Deraa mosque
Reports of bloodbath in Syria
Syrian Police Kill at Least 15 Protesters
Syria changes tack, promises reform
Syria offers reforms to calm violence
Syria crisis: Can reforms appease protesters?
Obama administration condemns Syria crackdown
2011 Syrian protests

Like Libya, here’s another revolt that I can heartily root for. Bashar al-Assad has buckets of American and Israeli blood on his hands and I would thoroughly enjoy watching his corpse being dragged through the streets. Tomorrow’s planned Day of Rage, after Friday prayers, could be a tipping point as to whether the Syrian government will fall or brutally repress the protesters. Stay tuned.

/of course, the Muslim country government that I would most like to see circle the drain is the Iranian regime, directly responsible for well over 90% of all the terrorism on the planet, maybe, hopefully, soon

Oman Circling The Drain

We can now add Oman to the ever growing list of teetering or toppled Muslim country governments that already includes; Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, and Libya.

Oman clashes: Two killed during protests in Gulf state

Two people have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters in the Gulf state of Oman, witnesses and officials said.

Hundreds had gathered for a second day in the industrial city of Sohar to call for political reforms.

At least five people were said to have been wounded when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

Until now, Oman had mostly been spared the unrest which has affected other Arab states in recent months.

Demonstrations are also taking place in the southern town of Salalah, according to Reuters news agency.

See also:
Protests turn violent in Oman port
Deaths in Oman protests
Middle East unrest spreads to Oman
Oman shuffles cabinet amid protests
Oman police clash with protesters
Two Killed In Oman As Protesters Clash With Security Forces
Clashes Between Police, Protesters Kill 2 in Oman
Anti-Govt. Clashes Kill 2, Injures 5 in Oman
Protesters clash with police in Oman
Two dead as Oman police move to quell protests
Police station, state office burning in Oman town
Six killed in Oman protests on Sunday: government hospital
Factbox: Facts about Oman

Oman is yet another country in political turmoil that borders Saudi Arabia. If this unrest consumes Saudi Arabia, all world economic hell will break loose and you can expect to pay a lot more for a gallon of gas. Will the Saudis be able to keep the wave of regional ant-government rebellion from splashing across her borders?

/we probably won’t have to wait long to find out, youth groups and workers in that country now calling for a “day of rage” demonstration in the capital, Riyadh, on March 11th

Libya Circling The Drain

The anti-government fever that has so far infected Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and Bahrain, has now spread to Libya.

Protesters die in Libya unrest

At least two people have been killed in clashes between Libyan security forces and demonstrators in the town of Bayda, east of Benghazi, the second largest city, as activists plan major anti-government protests throughout the country on Thursday.

The victims’ names were: Khaled ElNaji Khanfar and Ahmad Shoushaniya.

Wednesday’s deaths come as hundreds of protesters have reportedly torched police outposts in the eastern city of Beyida, while chanting: “People want the end of the regime.”

At least 38 people were also injured in the clashes, including ten security officials.

“All the people of Beyida are out on the streets,” said 25-year-old Rabie al-Messrati, who said he had been arrested after spreading a call for protests on Facebook.

Inspired by popular and successful uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan protesters are seeking an end to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year-old rule, one of the longest and most repressive leaders in the world.

Online calls of dissent have been growing rapidly over the past few days, with Facebook groups calling for “Uprising on February 17” doubling in popularity.

See also:
Protests flare as Libya arrests activists
Protests Spread To Libya
Anti-government protests spread to Gaddafi’s Libya
Gadhafi next? Anti-government protests spread to Libya
Rioting hits Libyan city of Benghazi
Libyan police stations torched
‘Day of rage’ to confront Libya’s Gadhafi
Libyan online protesters prepare for “day of rage”
Gaddafi sweats as protest fever reaches Libya
As ‘day of rage’ tests Gadhafi, Libya’s future rests in military’s hands
Gadhafi’s regime is braced for a day of anger
Libyans Plan Rallies After One Is Quashed
Libyan dictator warns against use of Facebook, 40 protesters injured
Libyan forces take action against demonstrators
Protesters, Police Clash In Libya
Riots spread across Libya overnight
SNAP ANALYSIS-Riots break out in Libyan city of Benghazi
Unrest continues to sweep Arab world

So, now the street chaos has come to Libya. Well, here’s one country where I can, in good conscience, heartily root for the rioters. If anyone in this world deserves to be dragged through the streets, it’s Muammar Gaddafi. We still owe him big time for Lockerbie.

/of course, the rioters will first have to fight their way past Gaddafi’s infamous Amazonian Guard

Algeria Circling The Drain

First there was political upheaval in Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and now Algeria is the latest Muslim country domino to teeter on the edge of open revolt.

Thousands in Streets of Algiers Demanding Change of Government

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Algeria’s capital and other main cities demanding the government’s ouster, mirroring protests in fellow North African countries Egypt and Tunisia.

A day after pro-democracy protesters drove Egypt’s longtime leader Hosni Mubarak from power, Algerians were in the streets demanding their own President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leave office.

Protesters chanting, “No to the police state!” and “Bouteflika out!”. News reports say crowds were in the thousands but far out numbered by riot police.

Protests also took place in other cities, including the Mediterranean hub of Oran, also against government orders.

See also:
ALGERIA: Clashes, arrests reported at banned anti-government demonstration
Thousands protest in Algeria, defying government warnings; 400 arrested but ‘the fear is gone’
Thousands Defy Ban To Protest In Algeria
400 arrested in Algeria at rally demanding reforms
Thousands rally to demand Algerian leader resign
Hundreds arrested as Algeria defies protest ban
Police and protesters clash in Algeria
Algerian opposition says 5,000 people participate in demonstration
Algeria: Police And Protesters Clash
Algerian police crack down on protesters
Algeria begins crackdown on pro-democracy demos
Algerian Riot Police Break Up Protest

I’d sure like to believe that the anti-government demonstrations in all these countries, one after the other, represented a wave of Western democracy marching through the Muslim world, but color me skeptical. None of these countries has any democratic history and their populations are decidedly non-secular. Even the countries held up as models of Muslim “democracy”, such as Turkey or Indonesia, have societies heavily steeped in Islamic law, antithetical to Western values.

/one thing’s for sure, whatever becomes of these Muslim countries currently embroiled in various stages of popular rebellion, the end result, in the aggregate, is likely to be decidedly less secular and less friendly to the West

Behold The Moderate Muslim Role Model Nuclear Physicist Al Qaeda Terrorist

Collider scientist ‘wants to join al-Qaeda’

A RENOWNED physicist working on the nuclear Hadron Collider project has been charged with terrorism offences.

Adlene Hicheur, 32, an Algerian national, was arrested last week in France after intelligence agents intercepted alleged contact he made with al-Qaeda over the internet.

His brother was also arrested, the Times reports, but has since been released.

A Paris judge was told by investigators that Dr Hicheur had offered to work with al-Qaeda.

The physicist, who works at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), allegedly told the terror group that “he was interested in committing an attack”.

According to the Times, he has since acknowledged contacting the militant organisation.

. . .

Judge Christophe Teissier ordered Dr Hicheur be detained while authorities investigate “the possible offence of association with criminals in relation with a terrorist enterprise”.

The arrest, according some within France, raises the possibility that Islamist militants could be seeking nuclear weapons technology.

Residents in Dr Hicheur’s home town of Vienne, in eastern France, said his success had made him a role model for young Muslims. “They are good boys,” said a neighbour.

”They are from a family of six children and from a very moderate Muslim family which is seen as a model of integration.”

See also:
Terrorism probe for Cern scientist
Hadron Collider physicist Adlene Hicheur charged with terrorism
Nuclear scientist on terror charges
Cern physicist suspected of Al-Qaida links charged
Preliminary charges filed against French physicist
LHC back in the news following terror arrests at CERN
Scientist on French terror charge
Big Bang scientist arrested over UK terror threat
Big Bang scientist to face prison after confessing to ‘Al Qaeda atrocity’ plot
Large Hadron Collider Scientist is Aspiring Terrorist
French Physicist Ordered Held on Terror Charges

Yes, yes, they’re all such good boys, moderate Muslims, role models for Muslim children, fully integrated into Western society. And then one day, out of the blue, they just happen to wake up with a sudden desire to join al Qaeda and kill infidels and Jews. Where on earth could that mindset have possibly come from? Gee, you don’t think the religion of Islam might be the problem do you, with all that jihad against the infidels and Jews stuff in the Koran and Hadiths?

/not all Muslims are terrorists but, nowadays, almost all terrorists are Muslims

Consensus Building

As the dust continues to settle, a more consistent narrative is taking shape and setting up.

Missing channel pirate ship carried Russian arms for Iran

A CARGO ship that vanished in the Channel was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, the Israeli security service, according to sources in both Russia and Israel.

The Arctic Sea, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth £1.3m, disappeared en route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered off west Africa on August 17 when eight alleged hijackers were arrested. The Kremlin has consistently denied that the vessel was carrying a secret cargo. It claims the ship was hijacked by criminals who demanded a £1m ransom.

The official version was challenged by sources in Tel Aviv and Moscow who claimed the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.

Mossad, which closely monitors arms supplies to Iran, is said to have tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the underworld.

The Kremlin then ordered a naval rescue mission which involved destroyers and submarines. Any evidence that the Kremlin had let advanced weaponry fall into the hands of criminals or be sold to Iran would be highly embarrassing, so military officials believe a “cover story” was concocted.

“The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face,” said a Russian military source. “I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.”

The alleged hijackers, four Estonians, two Russians and two Latvians, will go on trial in Moscow. According to the Kremlin’s account, they boarded the Arctic Sea in the Baltic by claiming their inflatable craft was in trouble and then took over the ship at gunpoint.

Sources in Moscow suggested Mossad may have played a part in the alleged hijacking by setting up a criminal gang, who were unlikely to have known anything about a secret cargo. “The best way for the Israelis to block the cargo from reaching Iran would have been to create a lot of noise around the ship,” said a former army officer.

“Once the news of the hijack broke, the game was up for the arms dealers. The Russians had to act. That’s why I don’t rule out Mossad being behind the hijacking. It stopped the shipment and gave the Kremlin a way out so that it can now claim it mounted a brilliant rescue mission.”

According to Israeli military sources, Israel received intelligence that weapons bound for Iran were being loaded in Kaliningrad, a port notorious for gun runners. “A decision was then taken to inform the Kremlin,” said the source.

Had the S-300 missiles been delivered, Iran would have significantly strengthened its air defences. An Israeli air force source said that in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear installations, such missiles could increase Israeli casualties by 50%.

. . .

Sources who suspect Mossad’s involvement point to a visit to Moscow by Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, the day after the Arctic Sea was rescued. Peres held four hours of private talks with Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president. Although the Israeli foreign ministry would not be drawn on the Arctic Sea, it confirmed that the two leaders had discussed the sale of Russian weapons to countries hostile to Israel. According to Israeli officials, Peres received verbal guarantees from the Russians that they would not sell advanced weapons systems to Iran or Syria.

“Clearly the Israelis played a role in the whole Arctic Sea saga,” said a Russian military source. “Peres used the incident as a bargaining chip over the issue of arms sales to Arab states, while Israel allowed the Kremlin a way out with its claims to have successfully foiled a piracy incident.”

See also:
Arctic Sea ghost ship ‘was carrying weapons to Iran’
Was Russia’s ‘Hijacked’ Ship Carrying Missiles to the Mideast?
‘Times’: Mossad staged Russian ship hijacking
Ship hijack mystery deepens despite arrests
Russian Military Says to Check Arctic Sea Cargo
Best Explanation Yet, But Is It The Truth?

Okay, so the Mossad gets wind of a plot by Russian mobsters to illegally smuggle and sell sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Israel tips off the Russian government, but there’s a problem. If word of this illegal arms sale gets out, the Russian government will be highly embarrassed and lose face. So, a cover story unfolds whereby the Mossad arranges for a “hijacking” of the Arctic Sea which throws a monkey wrench in the mobsters’ plan and allows the Russian Navy time to swoop in and “rescue” the ship. It’s a win win for both Israel and Russia. The Israelis help stop the sale of advanced missiles to Iran, which would drastically complicate any future Israeli airstrikes against Iran and, instead of of looking like incompetent dumbasses, unable to keep track of the inventory of their most sophisticated weapons, the Russians come off looking like heroes, having recovered their ship and crew (and the missiles) from the “hijackers”. The Mossad dissapears and the Russians throw a thick security blanket over the whole episode and its aftermath, maintaining plausible deniability that there was ever any illegal attempt to smuggle and sell S-300 missiles in the first place.

/makes sense to me

New Day, New Story

Yesterday, there weren’t any hijackers, but today there are suddenly eight. Go figure.

Russia Detains Eight in Hijacking of Ship Arctic Sea (Update1)

Russia’s navy detained eight suspected hijackers of the Maltese-flagged freighter Arctic Sea after a 25-day odyssey that ended in the Cape Verde islands off west Africa, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

The eight hijackers are citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Russia, Serdyukov told President Dmitry Medvedev today in comments published on the Kremlin’s Web site. The armed group boarded the Arctic Sea on July 24, then forced the crew to change course toward Africa and to shut down the ship’s navigational equipment, he said. The freighter had been en route from Finland to Algeria.

Russia learned of the Arctic Sea’s location “several days ago” and kept that information secret to give its warship, the Ladny, time to navigate the Cape Verde archipelago and catch the hijackers by surprise, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the government’s newspaper of record, reported. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization provided logistical support, the newspaper said.

The disappearance of the Arctic Sea, owned by Helsinki- based Oy Solchart Management AB, sparked international speculation about its fate, including a reported sighting at the Spanish port of San Sebastian, a possible second attack off Portugal and a Finnish police report of a ransom demand.

. . .

Defense Ministry spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov said by phone in Moscow today that he couldn’t confirm or deny the Rossiyskaya Gazeta report that NATO cooperated in the investigation. He said the crew was aboard the warship Ladny near Cape Verde and was being questioned. Carmen Romero, a spokeswoman for NATO in Brussels, couldn’t be reached for comment immediately.

The freighter was en route from Finland to Algeria with a cargo of timber valued at 1.3 million euros ($1.8 million). The seller was Rets Timber, a joint venture between Europe’s largest papermaker, Stora Enso Oyj, and UPM-Kymmene Oyj, Kari Naumanen, chief executive officer for Helsinki-based Rets, said by phone today. Most of the lumber came from other companies, he said.

Rets knows “nothing more than what’s public,” and wasn’t contacted by the hijackers, Naumanen said.

Finnish police didn’t contact Rets before going public with their investigation and haven’t shared internal information, he said. “They have not put one single question to us.”

The vessel will continue to Algeria to deliver its shipment, which is the property of three importers in Algeria, Naumanen said, declining to identify them. Rets has used Solchart for shipments to Algeria and Egypt for about 13 years, he said.

See also:
Russia says Arctic Sea was hijacked, suspects arrested
Eight Are Arrested Over Arctic Sea Hijacking
Russia Says It Holds Hijackers of Cargo Ship
Russia holds eight after recovering missing ship Arctic Sea
Crew of Arctic Sea under interrogation in hopes of yielding answers to mystery
Arctic Sea hijackers ‘threatened to kill crew, sink ship’
Hijackers of Ship Arctic Sea Demanded $1.5 Million From Insurer
Ship location kept quiet to protect hijacked crew
Doubts cast on Russia’s ‘rescue’ of Arctic Sea
Look Ma, No Hijackers

So, eight criminals hijack an 18 year old freighter laden with a cargo of $1.8 million worth of wood and demand $1.5 million in ransom? It hardly seems worth the effort, certainly no self-respecting Somali pirate would sink that low.

/sorry, I’m still not buying it, there’s got to be more to this story that’s not being made public yet

Look Ma, No Hijackers

Mystery as missing cargo ship Arctic Sea found without hijackers

The ship baffled maritime authorities when it disappeared shortly after being sailed through the English Channel last month, raising the prospect of the first act of piracy in European waters for hundreds of years.

Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, said that the 15 crew members were safe after they were taken on board a naval frigate “300 miles off the Cape Verde islands”.

“They are being questioned to clarify all the circumstances of the disappearance. We will explain what happened with it, why communications with it were lost, why it changed its itinerary.”

Russian authorities did not provide information on the precise circumstances of the ship’s interception near Cape Verde, about 2,500 miles away from the vessel’s intended location.

The naval operation, which took place on Sunday night, followed a weekend of joint Russia-Nato surveillance of the “hijacked” Maltese-flagged ship culminating in its detention by the Russian anti-submarine frigate, the Ladny.

Malta’s Maritime Authority said it would be “using diplomatic, security service, flag administration, military and police channels” to find out more about what had happened.

“The MV Arctic Sea is under the control of the Russian military forces. Further clarifications into the case are being sought,” said a spokesman.

The freighter’s disappearance on the high seas for 19 days, in spite of 21st century satellite and navigation tracking technology, has been compared to the plot of a spy thriller by John Le Carre.

European and Russian maritime experts had speculated that that the ship’s hijacking was not connected with an official manifest of timber and could be linked to an illegal cargo, such as arms, drugs or even nuclear materials, carried without the knowledge of crew or the ship’s owners.

The vessel left the Finnish port of Pietarsaari on July 23 with a £1.2 million cargo of timber for scheduled unloading on Aug 4 at Bejaia, Algeria.

But the Arctic Sea’s voyage was then plunged into mystery after crew reported a boarding in Swedish waters on July 24 by 10 armed English-speaking men masquerading as anti-narcotics police officers.

According to crew members, the intruders held them hostage for 12 hours, subjected them to violent questioning and “went through the ship with a fine-tooth comb”.

After proceeding through the English Channel on July 28, a final signal from the vessel’s automatic identification system (AIS) two days later placed the “pirate” ship 50 miles south of Penzance.

According to European Union officials a second attack was then reported off the Portuguese coast and the ship’s AIS system was switched off.

Last week, Russian navy vessels, including the Ladny and two nuclear submarines, were mobilised following reports of the vessel’s hijacking.

The Daily Telegraph understands the whereabouts of the 4000 ton dry-cargo freighter had been established last Thursday as the missing vessel headed south, out of Europe’s Atlantic waters towards the west African coast.

The Arctic Sea was then spotted by coastguards on Aug 14 in international waters 500 miles off the West African island archipelago of Cape Verde and the vessel was placed under ongoing surveillance by Russian and Nato military.

Finnish police investigators confirmed at the weekend that a ransom demand, said to be around £900,000, had been received by the Arctic Sea’s Russian owners.

Viktor Matveyev, director of the ship’s Russian-owned operator Oy Solchart, said: “We are all incredibly happy. Now the big work starts to find out what happened.”

See also:
Russia finds Arctic Sea ship, ‘debriefing’ crew
Russia Finds Missing Ship Arctic Sea, Defense Minister Says
Missing cargo ship Arctic Sea found off Cape Verde
Russian Navy finds Arctic Sea
Arctic Sea owner: Happy crew is “safe and all alive” (Extra)
Arctic Sea found off Cape Verde
Where Oh Where Has The Arctic Sea Gone, Where Oh Where Can It Be?
Thar She Blows?
The Plot Thickems

Well, it’s a good thing that the crew is safe and the recovery of the Arctic Sea was peaceful. However, there are still many more questions than answers. Hopefully, we’ll eventually find out the truth of what happened.

Until then, a couple of questions immediately leap to mind. Since there were no hijackers aboard, what exactly was the crew doing sailing the Arctic Sea off the coast of West Africa and why didn’t they turn on their identification beacon or otherwise communicate their location and situation to anyone?

/I’m betting that the whole “hijacking” scenario was a hoax, part of an elaborate scam for money, and the crew was in on it

The Plot Thickems

Police say ransom demanded in Arctic Sea mystery

A ransom has been demanded for a missing Russian cargo ship which vanished two weeks ago after being involved in a suspected hijacking off the coast of Sweden last month, Finnish police told CNN Saturday.

Authorities said the ransom demand might be from a second group of hijackers who targeted the ship after it was first allegedly hijacked for 12 hours off the coast of Sweden.

“There has been a demand for ransom and the subject is the shipping company, Solchart Management,” Jan Olof Nyholm with the Finnish police told CNN.

An international criminal investigation is under way into the alleged hijacking of the vessel, the Arctic Sea. The last known communication with the vessel was July 31.

The probe, involving Interpol, is being handled by Swedish, Maltese and Finnish authorities in cooperation with authorities from another 20 countries, the Malta Maritime Authority said in a statement Saturday.

Finnish police would not say how much ransom had been demanded, or what else they know about the vessel.

“At this point I can’t comment on whether we know the whereabouts of the ship. Our top priority is the threat to life and health, so I can’t release any more details,” Nyholm said. “The investigation has more details, but I can’t say any more.”

The Arctic Sea, which sails under a Maltese flag, was carrying a 6,500-ton cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria when it reported trouble on July 24.

See also:
Finland says ransom demand received for missing cargo ship Arctic Sea
Missing Ship Arctic Sea’s Owner Gets Ransom Demand (Update1)
Ransom demand made for Arctic Sea cargo ship
Ransom Demand Over Missing Atlantic Ship
Owners of missing cargo ship receive ransom demand
Report: Vanished ship’s signal appears off France
How on earth has the ‘Arctic Sea’ vanished?
Thar She Blows?
Where Oh Where Has The Arctic Sea Gone, Where Oh Where Can It Be?
Interpol

Who is demanding ransom and where is the Arctic Sea?

/enquiring minds want to know

Where Oh Where Has The Arctic Sea Gone, Where Oh Where Can It Be?

What Happened to the Missing Ship ‘Arctic Sea’?

Russia’s president has ordered the Russian Navy to take part in the search for the cargo ship “Arctic Sea.” Manned by a Russian crew, the ship vanished two weeks ago off the coast of southern Europe.

President Dmitry Medvedev told Secretary of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov to “take all necessary measures to establish the whereabouts and to find the missing ship ‘Arctic Sea’ with a Russian crew on board, as well as to free [the ship’s crew], should such a need arise,” the Kremlin told Interfax on Wednesday.

The Arctic Sea is a 5,000-ton cargo ship that was carrying timber worth approximately $1.6 million from Finland to Algeria. It left port July 23, and the next morning was reportedly boarded in Swedish waters in the Baltic Sea by a band of masked hijackers in a high-speed rubber boat, who identified themselves as anti-drug police. The 15-man crew was tied up while the hijackers searched the ship.

After 12 hours, they apparently disembarked and sped away, breaking radio and other communications gear but without taking anything of value, the crew reported to the Maltese Maritime Authority, where the ship is registered. Instead of making port after the incident, the ship continued on its trip.

The ship was last heard from July 28, when it radioed the Dover, England, Coast Guard because it was approaching the English Channel. In a call the Coast Guard called routine, the ship said that it was en route to the Algerian port of Bejaia, where it was due to arrive Aug. 4. The last time its position was recorded by tracking equipment was July 30, when it was off the coast of the northern French town of Brest. On Aug. 2, the ship was spotted by Portuguese coastal patrol planes.

But the next day, Aug. 3, Interpol told the Dover Coast Guard that the ship had been hijacked more than a week before and asked the Coast Guard to stay vigilant. By that point, however, the ship had passed through the English Channel and had fallen off the radar.

See also:
Secret cargo theory as hunt for missing vessel Arctic Sea goes on
Hijacked Arctic Sea feared to be carrying secret cargo of drugs
Missing ship may have secret cargo
Russian Navy Joins Search for Freighter
Hunt Intensifies for Missing Cargo Ship
Ship disappears after sail through English Channel
Piracy fears surround Arctic Sea disappearance
Arctic Sea’s unstable sisters
MV Arctic Sea

Unless it sank, I find it hard to believe, in the age of satelites, that they can’t find a 300 ft. ship in the Atlantic. This whole episode is well within the realm of the bizzarre. The Russians cannot be happy about what’s happening. The resolution of this mystery should prove to be quite interesting, if we ever find out for sure.

/given the seemingly professional nature of the presumed piracy, I think we can safely say that whatever cargo the Arctic Sea was transporting, it sure as hell wasn’t timber