News24

Interpol to track pirate money

2010-01-19 22:21

Lyon -  Interpol has seen no proof that terror groups like al-Qaeda are profiting from ransoms being paid to pirates off the Horn of Africa, a top official said on Tuesday.

Jean-Michel Louboutin, the agency's No 2 official, spoke to The Associated Press as the international police group opened a closed-door, two-day conference at its Lyon headquarters on tackling the piracy money trail.

Interpol will create a task force to crack down on maritime piracy "in all its facets," Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K Noble said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sea attacks worldwide surged 39% to 406 cases last year - with Somali pirates' raids on vessels accounting for more than half of the total, the International Maritime Bureau reported on Thursday. It was the third straight year it increased.

Ransom demands linked to maritime piracy off the Horn of Africa now average $2.2m, Interpol said.

The conference, the first of its kind, has brought together over 100 experts and policy makers from 42 countries and international organisations.

Analysts say Somalia's two decades of lawlessness have fuelled the increase. The attackers often speed out to sea in small skiffs armed with grappling hooks and automatic rifles.