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Monday, March 21, 2011


By JC Leahy

Oddly enough, most Somali pirates don't know how to swim.  That just shows how attractive are the financial rewards of piracy!!  In 2009 alone, Somali pirates collected 82 million dollars in ransom!!  (2009 was a relatively quite year for Somali piracy, according to ABOUT COM ! )This 82 million dollars does not include the value of stolen vessels and material or the proceeds of cargo sold in port!!  The successful Somali pirate is very much like the successful drug kingpin.  In his local environment, he is seen as a source of many good things.  He brings foreign currency.  He is a wonderful, free spending customer. He provides employment, both directly and indirectly.  In his own way, he is even seen as a role model!!

Peter Eichstadt, in his book Pirate State, provided these illuminating quotes from Somali citizens:  "'Even now, pirates are marrying the most beautiful ladies, with nonstop dancing at weddings that go a couple of days.  Some pirates are even sending their girlfriends to hospitals abroad to give birth.  Imagine that!' ...  Fatuma Abdul Kadir, twenty-one, bragged about  attending a two-day pirate wedding in July, 2008 with endless dancing, trays of goat meat, and a band from neighboring Djibouti.  'It was wonderful,' she said. 'I'm now dating a pirate.'"  Pirates live high on the food chain, occupying the best houses, driving the flashiest cars, and dating the most attractive women.

The successful Somali pirate supports a whole network of participants, both in his local community and abroad. When that multi-million  dollar ransom is paid, it is dropped in hard cash right onto the deck of the captive ship.  Of the whole ransom, 30% goes to the pirate crew right then and there.  It is divided equally among them with a double portion or a bonus going to the "jumper."  The jumper is the man assigned to be first up onto the victim ship during the capture.  Another 30% of the ransom is reserved for the raid's sponsor.  The next 20% typically goes to the raid's financial backers. The financial backers may have to pay others who have provided political or other cover. The next 10% goes to security personnel in port where the captive ship has been anchored during negotiations.   The final 10% goes to local elders, officials, and residents who have provided logistical support or hospitality for the pirates or their friends.

Piracy is an industry spawned by big money, greed, and the credible promise of easy wealth. It supports a whole network of people in the local community who are willing to provide cover and/or turn a blind eye to piracy. Such complicity makes piracy very, very difficult to curtail. Today this is as true in Somalia as it was in South Carolina two hundred years ago.  Only by capturing and executing enough Carolina pirates were the remaining pirates persuaded to find other occupations. We have a crew of 14 Somali pirates in Norfolk, Virginia today. The US Navy caught them red-handed and delivered them to Norfolk, Virginia earlier this month. They murdered the entire complement of an American vessel. The Navy caught them still aboard the American vessel and in possession of the dead mariners' bodies. These priates need to be tried for capital murder, by jury, in Federal court.  If they are NOT guilty of capital murder, pirates will find that under US law, piracy carries a mandatory life sentence. If they ARE guilty of capital murder, the pirates must be executed without remorse.  That's what I think. Got an idea?  Post it below!

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