The $50m contract to fight piracy… the unknown paying the lesser known

On 25 November 2005, the "Transitional Federal Government of Somalia" signed a $50m deal with US private marine security company Top Cat Marine Security, Inc. to "establish new Somalia Coast Guard and Security Forces". The press release on Top Cat’s website was unavailable as of this writing (403 error). According to a Chinese online newspaper, Topcat "will help fight terrorism, curb illegal fishing and combat pirates, who have used speed boats, automatic weapons and satellite phones to target UN-chartered ships and other vessels." This may provide to be an interesting case study on private security forces.

The progenitor of Topcat is likely CobraBoats, the firm owned by Peter Casini, Jr. Mr Casini holds the patents on the high-speed boat technology (see sections for 8 Feb 01 and 18 Mar 02) that Topcat was likely created to hire out.

Not sure if there’s anything to it, but Xinhua reports the deal was with "Somali Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Hassan Abshir Farah" and Topcat and not the head of state Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, as reported by BBC.

The absence of a functioning government in Somalia raises the obvious questions of who is funding this operation. The cost of the contract is actually curious itself: $50m. This is at, and likely just below, the threshold of required to notify Congress for contracting of defense services. It was hard to read, but it also seems Somalia is still an embargoed country, without an update since 1993.

The long of it is the Bush Administration has allowed this to take place. Why? To provide additional security through tax payer dollars to the region? Or is NATO or the EU picking up part of the bill? Highly doubtful.

:: See related Somalia posts here ::