One could say today was a mixed bag for the pirates.
On the minus side, the pirates tried to grab an Egyptian carrier but were stymied by a German warship. It looks like all the increased patrolling by foreign nations lately is working. But what’s one boat when they have so much else?
Reuters: So far this year 110 ships are reported to have been attacked and 42 hijacked, Choong said. Fourteen of the hijacked vessels are still being held by the pirates and more than 240 crew members are still being held hostage.
Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year on their way to and from the Suez Canal.
The seizures have prompted some major shipping firms to send their vessels around southern Africa instead of through the Suez Canal, raising the cost of commodities and manufactured goods.
The pirates, operating mainly from northern Somalia, where clashes between Islamists and U.S.-backed warlords have prevented the government from establishing order.
Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Mohamud Guled resigned on Wednesday after only a week in office, making the country even more unstable.
The pirates, as you might have guessed, are pretty much the rock stars of Somalia.
Cleveland.com: “Is there any Somali who can earn a million dollars for any business? We get millions of dollars easily for one attack,” bragged Salah Ali Samatar, a 32-year-old pirate who spoke by phone from Eyl, a pirate den on Somalia’s desolate northern coast.
…Residents say that the pirates are building houses, buying flashy cell phones and air-conditioned SUVs, giving friends and relatives hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, and winning the attention of beautiful women, who seem to be flocking to pirate towns from miles around.
Shopkeepers charge the pirates a premium for food and khat — a narcotic leaf that Somali men chew religiously — but the buccaneers don’t seem to mind.
Jama, who described himself as a high-ranking member of a group based in Eyl, has earned $375,000 as a pirate, enough to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser and to begin building a six-bedroom house in Garowe, the regional capital, for his family. His biggest payday came last month, when he earned a $92,000 share of a $1.3 million ransom for a Greek ship, the MV Centauri, which was released after 10 weeks with its crew unharmed.
Almost overnight, Jama said, his standing with the fairer sex has improved dramatically.
“Once there was a girl who lived in Garowe,” 100 miles from Eyl, Jama said. “I loved her. I tried to approach her many times, but she rejected me. But since I became a pirate, she has tried nine times to get with me.
“But I refused, because I’m already married.”
…Mustaf Mohamed Abdi, a 48-year-old taxi driver in Garowe, marveled at the excitement in town when a band of pirates comes through on a spending spree. If he’s lucky, Abdi said, a friendly pirate might tip him with a hundred-dollar bill.
“The pirates are the hottest men in town,” Abdi said. “Girls from all over Somalia moved here to marry pirates. But if the girl isn’t cute she’s out of luck, because the pirates only go with beautiful girls.”
In all fairness, the pirates are doing this out of a sense of justice.
Many of the pirates are former fishermen who claim that they’re retaliating against rich countries for years of illegal fishing and dumping in Somali waters, and a small portion of the ransoms is thought to go to local fishermen.
One pirate group in Eyl goes by the name “Saving the Somali Sea,” although residents complain that the lion’s share of the cash stays in the pirates’ pockets.