It's at moments like these one wishes for a Thomas Jefferson (and the Marines). I have been reporting on Muslim pirate activity for years. But this is different. This is bolder, bigger, brasher. And oil prices went up on the news of it. They are testing us, we are failing .... they will push harder and take bigger risks and we will sit there texting in our favorite no talent idol pick to ABC.
The price of oil rose by a dollar yesterday as a direct result of the Sirius Star capture.
But the danger of these modern-day brigands goes far beyond a jump in oil prices.
The pirates are closely linked to Islamic terrorists - and this is where the real risk to the West lies.
Pirates have already seized tankers laden with benzene and could easily take a ship loaded with liquid gas.
Security experts in south Asia fear that such a ship could be used as a giant floating bomb in the Malacca Straits, reducing a city such as Singapore to rubble or blocking a major shipping route carrying much of the world's trade.
How long before Al-Shabaab terrorists - the name means 'The Lads' - in Somalia countenance such an atrocity?
Everyone would feel the indirect impact as world trade ground to a halt while the price of oil went through the roof.
The Sirius Star joins at least 14 other ships which Somali pirates are currently holding to ransom, along with more than 260 crew members. They come from dozens of nations, many of them poor and Muslim.
The captive ships range from the Ukrainian Faina, laden with guns, ammunition and 32 battle tanks, to bulk carriers, tankers, ocean-going tugs and gleaming luxury yachts.
Although the lives of crew are at risk when the ships are stormed, or when commandos attempt armed rescues, the main objective of the pirates is to extort large amounts of cash from the ship owners, who are insured against this eventuality.
Payment is generally made by former special forces men who hand over the money in sacks and holdalls, since pirates don't have bank accounts.
The current going rate for release of an ordinary vessel varies between £200,000 and £1million.
The pirates are a by-product of the murderous anarchy that has enveloped Somalia for decades, reducing its capital Mogadishu to ghostly ruins from which half the population has fled.
There has been no effective government since 1991, certainly not in the coastal north where the pirates congregate.
As a UN spokesman remarked: 'If you give countries points from one to ten for anarchy and confusion, Somalia gets 20.'
Pirates are of three types: unemployed fishermen who have nautical skills; gunmen from the country's many armed militias, and technical experts who operate computerised navigation systems to track the target vessels.
The Sirius Star was seized 450 miles off Kenya, twice the range at which these pirates usually operate.
Read it all. And read this too: Hijacked supertanker anchors off Somali coast as pirates open talks over their $100m oil haul... and demand a $10m ransom (hat tip van)
UPDATE: India has it right. (hat tip Van)