Somalia, The New Barbary?

Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa

October 2010 9781849040426 176pp
Temporarily out of stock
October 2010 9781849040433 176pp
Temporarily out of stock


Somali piracy has been linked repeatedly to the spectre of Barbary. Piracy off the Horn of Africa has certainly raged with the intensity of a perfect storm with the spread of conflict and disorder. The purpose of this book is to examine whether or not state failure is a useful and accurate explanation for Somali piracy and if violent Islamism could exploit what the pirates have achieved for their own ends. It reviews the history, motivation, organisation, criminal methods and operational tactics of the Somali pirates from their first manifestations in the mid-1990s to the present. It attempts to show that their activities and their fortunes are linked to the rise and fall of political groups within Somalia. It asks why and how violent Islamist groups operate within Somalia and the degree to which they might exploit the maritime dimension in the future. Finally it reviews whether or not the political and military solutions being practised or proposed currently will resolve either problem.


‘Murphy’s book brings new insights to bear on the enduring problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia. …will also be of interest to a wider audience of practitioners and seafarers’. – Dr Dave Sloggett, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

Somalia: The New Barbary?-Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa is the first book to comprehensively study Somali piracy within the unique cultural, historical, political, and economic context from which the phenomenon arose in challenge to the prevailing global order of the twenty-first century. A veteran naval analyst and recognised expert on piracy, Martin Murphy brings both nuance and insight to bear on this important security concern, but does so in a manner accessible to the general reader – Highly recommended’. –– J. Peter Pham, Senior Vice President, National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of the Middle East and Africa

‘Murphy outlines a clear history of not only the Somalia piracy problem but the wider issues of terrorist and insurgent infiltration. He provides in-depth insight that makes his book a must read for anyone interested in this complex topic’. –– Rudy Atallah, Africa Counter-Terrorism Director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2006-9 and CEO White Mountain Research

‘When the Founding Fathers authorized the original Six Frigates to fight the Barbary Pirates they never dreamed that we would still be fighting the same villains of the seas in the twenty-first century. Murphy does a masterful job capturing the history of piracy, explains the current threat and makes some brilliant recommendations on how to prevent the pirates from getting the upper hand in the years ahead. This book should be at the top of the reading list for every well educated naval officer and anyone interested in this important topic’. –– RADM Terry McKnight, USN (Ret), Commander, Combined Task Force 151, Counter-Piracy Task Force, Gulf of Aden

‘An altogether useful work for policy-oriented readers, those interested in East Africa, and readers of maritime affairs. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘This is the first serious, authoritative study of Somali piracy, which I read with keen interest and agreement; it illuminates a fascinating topic.’ — Ioan Lewis, Emeritus Professor, LSE


Dr Martin N. Murphy is one of the world's leading experts on piracy and irregular warfare at sea. He lives and works in Washington, DC where he advises the US Navy. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies at King's College, University of London.

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