This is totally great. Truly the ultimate adventure in community organizing. Since private individuals and companies have elected to pay off pirates who seize ships and kidnap people, the pirates have figured out a way to get the community involved in the action and allow investors to take a shot at a big pay day.
The pirates are moving farther offshore to practice their trade, increasing the need for resources – namely skinny Somali men with an attitude, AK-47s and a few RPGs – in the pirate lair of Haradheere. Necessity is the mother of invention, so the elder sea gang members have put together an exchange to manage their investments.
Somali’s from around the country – and investors from other countries – are getting in on the act. Some provide financing to buy food, boats and fuel for those long trips 250-plus miles offshore. Others provide weapons of volunteer as guards ensuring Thai fishing boats hijacked at sea don’t slip away.
Mohamed Ahmed from Reuters took a tour, please do click on the link and read Ahmed’s full story, with a few excerpts here…
One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.
“Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 ‘maritime companies’ and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,” Mohammed said.
“The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.” …
The administration [Somali government] has no influence in Haradheere — where a senior local official said piracy paid for almost everything.
“Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output,” said Mohamed Adam, the town’s deputy security officer.
“The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes on public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools.” …
Haradheere’s “stock exchange” is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action.
Every week, Mohammed said, gang members and equipment were lost to the sea. But he said the pirates were not deterred.
“Ransoms have even increased in recent months from between $2-3 million to $4 million because of the increased number of shareholders and the risks,” he said.
“Let the anti-piracy navies continue their search for us. We have no worries because our motto for the job is ‘do or die’.”
Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.
“I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,” she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.
“I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the ‘company’.”
I’m not exactly certain what $75,000 can buy you these days in pirate-land, but I’m encouraged the sea gangs have an official motto – just waiting for the full mission statement and details on health benefits and paid time off…