Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Somali pirates are high rollers

The Somali pirates have received a lot of global attention lately. The pirates hijack ships and boats passing by one of the planets busiest waterways. The pirates seem to get away with it most of the time.

Many go into pirating because it's about the only way to get a leg up in Somalia. Years of war have destroyed any economic opportunity of anyone. According to Sarah Smiles of Australia's The Age the pirates get to enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

The pirates enjoy a lavish lifestyle unknown to many in a country racked by poverty.

A New York Times article in October described the high-rolling swagger of pirates in Garoowe, a town south of Boosaaso on the Somalian coast.

Flush with cash, the pirates drive the biggest cars, run many of the town's businesses — like hotels — and throw the best parties, residents say.

Fatuma Abdul Kadir said she went to a pirate wedding in July that lasted two days, with nonstop dancing and goat meat, and a band flown in from neighbouring Djibouti.

The pirates — who were often fishermen before they became criminals — have become more ambitious in their attacks in recent years, travelling longer distances to attack ships.

High-profile attacks include the hijacking of the Saudi supertanker MV Sirius Star and its cargo of oil worth more than $100 million in November, and a Ukrainian freighter carrying more than 30 Soviet-era battle tanks and heavy weaponry that was seized in September.

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