Interview with a Pirate
Somali pirates: more political awareness, less yo-ho-ho
You may have been following the saga of the Ukranian weapons ship that was taken by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The ship contained military arms, including tanks, that were to be delivered to the government of either Kenya or Sudan. The pirates now find themselves being tracked at sea by the American and Russian navies, and they are demanding millions of dollars in ransom in exchange for the safe release of the ship's crew and cargo.
Now the New York Times has an interview with the pirates who took that ship:
The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas.The problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia is so widespread that the pirates now number in the thousands.
“We just saw a big ship,” the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, told The New York Times. “So we stopped it.”
The pirates quickly learned, though, that their booty was an estimated $30 million worth of heavy weaponry, heading for Kenya or Sudan, depending on whom you ask.
In a 45-minute-long interview, Mr. Sugule expounded on everything from what the pirates want — “just money” — to why they were doing this — “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters” — to what they have to eat on board — rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being food.”
He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”
Mr. Sugule said that his men are treating the crew members well (the pirates would not let the crew members speak on the phone, saying it was against their rules). “Killing is not in our plans,” he said. “We only want money, so we can protect ourselves from hunger.”
When asked why the pirates needed $20 million to protect themselves from hunger, Mr. Sugule laughed over the phone and said: “Because we have a lot of men.”
Read the whole fascinating article here.
(cross posted at appletree)