Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pirate Life

What drives the Somali pirates? Pretty much what you'd expect.

According to residents in the Somali region of Puntland where most of the pirates come from, they live a lavish life.

"They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day," says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.

"They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns," he says. "Piracy in many ways is socially acceptable. They have become fashionable."

Most of them are aged between 20 and 35 years - in it for the money.

BBC Somalia analyst Mohamed Mohamed says such pirate gangs are usually made up of three different types: (1)Ex-fishermen, who are considered the brains of the operation because they know the sea. (2)Ex-militiamen, who are considered the muscle - having fought for various Somali clan warlords. (3)The technical experts, who are the computer geeks and know how to operate the hi-tech equipment needed to operate as a pirate - satellite phones, GPS and military hardware.

Of course, the local situation contributes to recruiting.

Such success is a great attraction for Puntland's youngsters, who have little hope of alternative careers in the war-torn country.

The trappings of success may be new, but piracy has been a problem in Somali waters for at least 10 years - when Somali fishermen began losing their livelihoods.

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