From the mouths of pirates

I started to hijack these fishing boats in 1998. I did not have any special training but was not afraid. For our first captured ship we got $300,000. With the money we bought AK-47s and small speedboats. I don’t know exactly how many ships I have captured since then but I think it is about 60. Sometimes when we are going to hijack a ship we face rough winds, and some of us get sick and some die.

We give priority to ships from Europe because we get bigger ransoms. To get their attention we shoot near the ship. If it does not stop we use a rope ladder to get on board. We count the crew and find out their nationalities. After checking the cargo we ask the captain to phone the owner and say that have seized the ship and will keep it until the ransom is paid.

Our community thinks we are pirates getting illegal money. But we consider ourselves heroes running away from poverty. We don’t see the hijacking as a criminal act but as a road tax because we have no central government to control our sea.

With foreign warships now on patrol we have difficulties. But we are getting new boats and weapons. We will not stop until we have a central government that can control our sea.

A Somali pirate, interviewed by The Guardian’s Xan Rice. Via Africa Works.

2 thoughts on “From the mouths of pirates

  1. A few things occur to me:

    1. Is this what the “pirate boss” actually thinks or just what he knows will make him look somewhat sympathetic to a foreign journalist?
    2. Most of the attacks occur far from 12 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia and are closer to the coast of Yemen than Somalia. Ship captains are terrified of going anywhere near Somalia and insurers won’t cover vessels that do.
    3. An increasing number of pirate attacks are not on fishing vessels at all.
    4. He says they drive in a Toyota Land Cruiser. The 2008 model in the U.S. sells for about $64,000. I have friends who do pretty well for themselves who would like a Land Cruiser but cannot afford it.