Somali pirates tell all: They're in it for the money (New York Times)Piracy in Somalia is a highly-organized, lucrative, ransom-driven business. Just this year, pirates have hijacked more than 25 ships, and in many cases, they were paid million dollar ransoms to release them. The juicy payoffs have attracted gunmen from across Somalia and the pirates are thought to now number in the thousands.The piracy industry started about 10 to 15 years ago, Somali officials said, as a response to illegal fishing. Somalia’s central government imploded in 1991, casting the country into chaos. With no patrols along the shoreline, Somalia’s tuna-rich waters were soon plundered by commercial fishing fleets from around the world.
Somali fishermen armed themselves and turned into vigilantes by confronting illegal fishing boats and demanding that they pay a tax.“From there, they got greedy” explained Mohamed Osman Aden, a Somali diplomat in Kenya. “They starting attacking everyone.”By the early 2000s, many of the fishermen had traded in their nets for machine guns and were hijacking any vessel — sailboat, oil tanker, United Nations-chartered food ship — that they could catch.“It’s true that the pirates started to defend the fishing business,” Mr. Mohamed said. “And illegal fishing is a real problem for us. But this does not justify these boys to now act like guardians. They are criminals. The world must help us crack down on them.”
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
30 September 2008
Backstory on the Somali pirates
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