Oooooh this is intriguing, to say the least…
As Somali pirates brazenly maintain their standoff with American warships off the coast of Africa, the cargo aboard one Iranian ship they commandeered is raising concerns that it may contain materials that can be used for chemical or biological weapons.
Some local officials suspect that instead of finding riches, the pirates encountered deadly chemical agents aboard the Iranian vessel.
On Aug. 21, the pirates, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, stole onto the decks of the merchant vessel Iran Deyanat.
They ransacked the ship and searched the containers. But in the days following the hijacking, a number of them fell ill and died, suffering skin burns and hair loss, according to reports.
The pirates were sickened because of their contact with the seized cargo, according to Hassan Osman, the Somali minister of Minerals and Oil, who met with the pirates to facilitate negotiations.
“That ship is unusual,” Osman told the Long War Journal, an online news source that covers the War on Terror. “It is not carrying a normal shipment.”
The pirates reportedly were in talks to sell the ship back to Iran, but the deal fell through when the pirates were poisoned by the cargo, according to Andrew Mwangura, director of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program.
“Yes, some of them have died,” he told the Long War Journal. “Our sources say [the ship] contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.”
Iran has called the allegations a “sheer lie,” and said that the ship “had no dangerous consignment on board,” according to Iranian news source Press TV. Iran says the merchant vessel was shipping iron ore from a port in China to Amsterdam.
The ship’s contents are still unclear, but the reported deaths and skin abrasions have raised concerns that it could be more than meets the eye.
The massive shipping company that controls the vessel, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL), was recently designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury over nuclear proliferation concerns. IRISL, which is accused of falsifying documents to facilitate the shipment of weapons and chemicals for use in Iran’s missile program, is blocked from moving money through U.S. banks as well as from carrying food and medical supplies as part of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
“IRISL’s actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs,” said Stuart Levey, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
The U.S. government has made no accusation against IRISL regarding the Iran Denayat; the State Department would not comment on reports of its suspicious cargo.
“I don’t have any information on that case,” said State Department spokesman Curtis Cooper. “We’re aware that there are currently 12 other hijacked ships off the Somali coast. This is obviously something that is disturbing.”
Disturbing is not the word I would use. Terrifying is more accurate for me.
Read the rest in FOX News