Interview With a Somali Pirate

A pir­ate boss speaks to The Guard­i­an

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.

We make friends with the host­ages, telling them that we only want money, not to kill them. Some­times we even eat rice, fish, pasta with them. When the money is delivered to our ship we count the dol­lars and let the host­ages go.

[…] We split the money. For example, if we get $1.8m, we would send $380,000 to the invest­ment man who gives us cash to fund the mis­sions, and then divide the rest between us.

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.

[…] We will not stop until we have a cent­ral gov­ern­ment that can con­trol our sea.

So is the solu­tion to give smal­ler ransoms, to go after the pir­ate fin­an­ci­ers, or to help them get a con­trolling, cent­ral gov­ern­ment?

via Chris Blattman