Spreading the Pirate Booty Around

INSERT DESCRIPTIONSomali pirate town Boosaaso. (Photo: Jehad Nga/The New York Times)

Who’s making money from the piracy that’s flourishing off the coast of Somalia?

The pirates themselves seem to be raking it in. As the Guardian reports, pirates have made about $30 million from ransom payments this year, according to U.N. estimates; and they are demanding $25 million for the return of their latest capture, the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star.

Increased piracy also provides a welcome revenue stream for private military contractors like Blackwater Worldwide. As Wired reports, Blackwater hires itself out like mercenaries of centuries past to protect ships against pirates. Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, for example, charges $30,000 per boat for its piracy protection, according to NPR.

Another piracy profiteer: coastal Somali villages.

In the Somali fishing town Eyl — the “piracy capital of the world” — the local economy is booming, thanks to the 12 foreign ships being held hostage off its coast by hundreds of pirates who bring their business — using plundered money — to the village.

New businesses in the town, including hotels built to accommodate pirates, are dependent on its criminal economy. The Guardian quotes one of the town’s tea vendors:

When the pirates have money, I can easily increase my price to $3 for a cup.

It is good to see that inflation is alive and well somewhere.


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  1. arrrrrrrrrrrrg...me parrot ate too much fruit says:

    …and of course, the famous Eyl Eyepatch Emporium is making huge money as well.

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  2. pelayo@cms says:

    Piracy throughout the centuries has been condemed. In my opinion it is just another form of terrorism. The current level of pircay has increased dramatically but it has had positive externalities. Somalia has not had a stable government and all industries have failed. Piracy has given new life to this country. People of Somalia are actually happy about it, eventhough they admit it is not the best way to earn money. However, when your kids are hungry you are willing to do anything.
    I think Piracy off the coast of Somalia will not stop until a government is set-up with the help of the U.N. and the leading nations of our world.

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  3. iampriteshdesai says:

    I never beileved until few years ago that piracy was real in todays world rather than just in the books. However it is easier to wipe them away thanks to modern wepons

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  4. Magnus Falk says:

    @2: Stop watering down the T-word! Terrorism is not something you do for profit, it’s something you do for the sake of scaring people.

    I’m so tired of people calling anything and everything terrorism these days.

    - Security Professional

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  5. Ruben says:

    According to BBC, the piracy is the symptom of the wider problems in Somalia: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7740417.stm
    Fishing has decreased because of the passing tankers ripping through their nets, and depositing toxic waste off the coast.

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  6. teej says:

    Piracy throughout the centuries has been condemed. In my opinion it is just another form of terrorism.

    Has the word “terrorism” lost all meaning after seven years of the Bush administration using it like Marines use the F bomb? Does it now mean “bad things that bad people do”? I was under the impression that terrorism was violent actions against a civilian populace meant to inspire fear in order to effectuate political change.

    Somalia doesn’t have a government. No political change is possible. Piracy /= terrorism. This isn’t Hagbard Celine we’re talking about here, it’s dudes with AKs running a ransom business for money.

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  7. Rich says:

    #’s 2 and 3.

    No, Terrorism is specifically for a political gain. Random scaring people isn’t terrorism.

    The economic question is, at what point do they get too greedy? Until recently it has been a cost of doing business, and companies will just pay them off. But when you start grabbing oil tankers and ships with tanks, you get noticed, and getting sunk. Will they scale back? Or will they keep pushing until the countries like the US and Britain send in their navys?

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  8. Douglas B. Stevenson says:

    What has been lost in piracy discussions is its effects on merchant mariner victims of piracy . Most people do not realize how vital merchant mariners are to their everyday life. Over 90% of what we consume in the US has traveled on a ship operated merchant mariners. Between January and September of this year, 581 merchant mariners have been taken hostage and 9 killed by pirates worldwide. We need better to protect merchant mariners from pirate attacks and take care of those who have been attacked.

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