It is feared that the Somali pirates are planning to change tactics, using new weapons. That’s because smuggler and black market chatter in countries adjoining Libya is that naval mines and shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles have been taken from Libyan military bases during the rebellion last year, are now available for sale. Some of the missiles have been captured by police in Egypt, but no naval mines have been seen yet. Back in 1984, a Libyan merchant ship covertly dropped dozens of naval mines in the near the Red Sea entrance to the Suez Canal, damaging 19 ships. Western mine clearing forces were called in to clear the mines, and some Russian mines were found. Libya had recently purchased mines of this type. An Islamic terror group took credit for the mining, but all the evidence pointed to Libya.
Since the 1980s, Libya has continued to buy naval mines, and not all of them have been accounted for since the end of the recent revolution. If the Somali pirates got possession of some of these mines, and found someone who knew how to use them (and find out if the older ones were still in working order), they could extort money from large ports in the area. This would involve planning at least one mine near a port and sinking a ship. Anti-aircraft missiles would make it more dangerous for the anti-piracy patrol to use their helicopters. All this would put more pressure on sea-faring nations to go along with Chinese proposals to land troops on the “Pirate Coast” of northern Somalia, destroy the facilities used by the pirates, kill or capture as many as possible, and generally hurt the pirates as much as possible. It’s less likely that al Shabaab would get these mines and missiles, because al Shabaab is broke. But Iran might help al Shabaab out here, just to irritate the West.