The Business of Piracy / The Piracy of Business

Hassan Abdullahi, a 21-year-old pirate from the Puntland region of Somalia. Scott Baldauf / The Christian Science MonitorThe May 31, 2009 issue of The Christian Science Monitor has 2 fascinating articles about Somali piracy.

The first is by Scott Baldauf and is titled Pirates, Inc.: Inside the booming Somali business. Baldauf travels to Somaliland to interview some of the players in this mutlimillion dollar business operation including 21 year old pirate, Hassan Abdullahi (pictured right). While Baldauf readily acknowledges that the economic conditions in Somalia are desperate, making piracy an attractive profession for young men, he doesn’t directly address the overfishing and pollution that is cited in so many other articles. Instead, the journalist portrays Somali piracy as organized, international big business.

“Who are the real pirates?” asks Andrew Mwangura, secretary-general of the East African Seafarers Association in Mombasa. “It’s not these young boys on the boats. It’s the people behind them, with the money to buy the boats and the motors and the guns and the GPS devices. They put their money here in Kenya, but also in Dubai or Canada or Mumbai.” He pauses. “The real pirate could be a white person like you.”

In the same issue of The Christian Science Monitor, Adian Jones writes a companion piece that is an interesting juxtaposition to Baldauf’s article. Somali piracy a boost for London’s shipping insurers.

“Take the Sirius Star – it is worth about $85 [million] to $90 million. At the upper end you are looking at perhaps an extra $180,000 per transit,” says the broker. “That’s good money being made.”

Hmm, “good money” might not have been the best way to characterize it.

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Peter A. Mello

Husband, father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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