Posts for category ‘Somalia’

Cutthroat Capitalism: Somali Pirates and Insurers Share the Booty
| June 22, 2009 | 9:51 pm

Off of the coast of Somalia close to 1000 armed men troll the seas praying for a chance to score some booty. Since 2007 Somali piracy has caught the world’s imagination and the number of hijacked boats has skyrocketed. But the pirates don’t work in isolation. Piracy exists in Somalia not only because the nation is in a near constant state of revolution, but because the people charged with controlling piracy are actively helping to promote the underlying conditions that make hijacking ships so profitable. Not only have ransom payouts begun to routinely top $1 million (a Donald Trump-like fortune in Somalia), but whole anti-piracy industries have sprung up in response to piracy and created profitable business models of their own. Security contractors, insurance companies and maritime lawyers don’t have any incentive to curtail the brigands when they reap millions in cash for every vessel they free.

In this month’s issue of WIRED I’ve crunched the data and shown how the rise in ransom payouts in the last year has corresponded with a rise in insurance premiums, hijackings and shipping costs. And while hundreds of innocent crew members are held at gunpoint on their ships, the people who control the shipping industries have written it all off as a business expense.

Check out Cutthroat Capitalism here.

Somali Pirates’ Homemade Video
| April 11, 2009 | 3:15 am

For the last three months I’ve been working on a story for WIRED that will explore the economic linkages that keep piracy in Somalia a profitable business. Last week I began interviewing pirates and pirate contacts and came across a small trove of videos that pirates took on board the hijacked Yasa Neslihan. According to my sources, this video was taken by the hijackers to prove that the ship was in good condition before final delivery of ransom. To my knowledge, this is the first such video that has been released to the public, though the practice of recording while on board is commonplace.

What is most interesting to me in this is that the pirates seem to have cordial relations with the captured Japanese crew. You can see them mingling with the pirates while on the bridge. It’s also striking that it only took a handfull of lightly armed men to capture several hundred million dollars of equipment and cargo.

Above is the edited version that aired on WIRED News on April 10, 2009. To see the unedited footage follow this link: Somali Pirates Homemade Hijacking Video.