I am 42 years old and have nine children. I am a boss with boats operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
I finished high school and wanted to go to university but there was no money. So I became a fisherman in Eyl in Puntland like my father, even though I still dreamed of working for a company. That never happened as the Somali government was destroyed [in 1991] and the country became unstable.At sea foreign fishing vessels often confronted us. Some had no licence, others had permission from the Puntland authorities but did not want us there to compete. They would destroy our boats and force us to flee for our lives.I started to hijack these fishing boats in 1998. I did not have any special training but was not afraid. For our first captured ship we got $300,000. With the money we bought AK-47s and small speedboats. I don't know exactly how many ships I have captured since then but I think it is about 60. Sometimes when we are going to hijack a ship we face rough winds, and some of us get sick and some die.
We give priority to ships from Europe because we get bigger ransoms. To get their attention we shoot near the ship. If it does not stop we use a rope ladder to get on board. We count the crew and find out their nationalities. After checking the cargo we ask the captain to phone the owner and say that have seized the ship and will keep it until the ransom is paid.We make friends with the hostages, telling them that we only want money, not to kill them. Sometimes we even eat rice, fish, pasta with them. When the money is delivered to our ship we count the dollars and let the hostages go.
Then our friends come to welcome us back in Eyl and we go to Garowe in Land Cruisers. We split the money. For example, if we get $1.8m, we would send $380,000 to the investment man who gives us cash to fund the missions, and then divide the rest between us.
Our community thinks we are pirates getting illegal money. But we consider ourselves heroes running away from poverty. We don't see the hijacking as a criminal act but as a road tax because we have no central government to control our sea. With foreign warships now on patrol we have difficulties.But we are getting new boats and weapons. We will not stop until we have a central government that can control our sea.
Por cierto que en uno de los números del año pasado del Journal of Political Economy fue publicado un ensayo sobre la economía de los piratas (de los antiguos). Si no quieren leer todo el paper académico, aquí pueden ver un artículo más sencillo sobre el tema que fuera publicado en The New Yorker.