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.