Two pieces of interest from the world of Somali piracy1
1) A man who claims to be negotiating on behalf of the pirates holding the MV Leila wants Somaliland to release some of their “colleagues” being held in prison there. This is a new tactic/procedure for the pirates, and highlights an interesting truth about these pirates. Contrary to what I think many seem to believe, they aren’t terrorists or fanatics intent only on destruction or some ideological victory. By and large they are part of long-standing clans with deep familial ties – when a pirate gets arrested, the other pirates actually care a great deal.
I have personal experience with pirates going to great lengths to try and save one of their own, trading hostages for just the chance of medical treatment for one of their wounded. I think Americans have a tendency to treat all our enemies as if they are entirely alien beings, completely unpredictable because of their irrational tactics and needs. While I condemn the pirates because of what they do, defeating them requires a holistic understanding of what drives them.
2) The fifteen Somali men captured last month as part of a high-profile rescue of an Iranian ship have been transferred to the Seychelles for trial. Increasingly, the Seychelles has become a hub for anti- and counter-piracy operations, due to its location and economic reliance on fishing and maritime tourism. One of the biggest challenges facing international counter-piracy forces is the inability of finding nations willing to try pirates:
None of the nations most directly involved in the case — Somalia, home of the suspects; Iran, home of 13 hostages seized in the case; or the United States, which detained the Somalis — had either the capacity or desire to take on the costs and difficulties of prosecuting the suspects.
A good percentage of the pirates captured by naval forces every year are disarmed and released, for lack of evidence and lack of nations willing to try them.