The US and Russia fear that on-board weapons could reach Al Qaeda
Several US warships kept their vigil and blockade of the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina. A Russian missile frigate steamed toward Somalia to add its muscle to the standoff. And on Wednesday, the Somali government authorized foreign use of force against the pirates.
That was a formality, since Somalia's weak central government holds little sway over much of its territory, or its pirate-infested waters.
Hijackings by pirates are a near daily occurrence off Somalia, and the international community has to date done little to stop them.
Now, the US fears those tanks could instead end up in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants in Somalia. The militants, particularly al Shabaab, are fighting to wrest control of the country from a weak, US-backed government in Mogadishu.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that those militants have urged the pirates to destroy the ship and its cargo if they do not get the $20 million ransom they are demanding for the release of the cargo and crew.