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April 27, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2327

Al-Arabiya TV Interviews Somali Pirates and Displays Their Mode of Operation

April 27, 2009
Africa, Somalia | Special Dispatch No. 2327

Following are excerpts from two Al-Arabiya TV reports on Somali pirates, which aired on April 19 and 20, 2009.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2087.

Reporter: "We Wanted to Talk to One of the Most Famous Pirates, Who Is Known as Boyah, the Emir of the Pirates"

Reporter: "Here in the Somali coastal town of Harardere, Sirius Star, the biggest oil tanker in the world, was anchored, until the pirates released it in exchange for a three million dollar ransom. During the three months in which Sirius Star was held captive, an Al-Arabiya TV news team made an attempt to approach it, aboard a small fishing boat. They managed to get as close as 500 meters from the Saudi vessel before the guards warned them not to come any closer, forcing our colleagues, Al-Zubeir and Al-Bukhari, to return to shore.

"A few days before the tanker was released, however, one of the pirates sent us these exclusive images of this enormous Saudi tanker, which is bigger than an American warship or aircraft carrier. A few pirates can be seen here on board the vessel, waiting for the ransom to be paid, but they could not imagine that they would come to a tragic end. Five of them drowned when their boat capsized, with the money, which was dropped from a small airplane in the high seas, just like in these exclusive images of a similar exchange. The difference is that in that case, the boxes with the ransom money were hauled into the hijacked ship.

"This incident brought the Somali pirates into the spotlight of world attention. We wanted to talk to one of the most famous pirates, who is known as Boyah, the Emir of the Pirates.

"We are about to meet Boyah, one of the pirate leaders in Eyl. Two days ago, this pirate hijacked two Turkish ships near the Gulf of Aden.

Boyah fears that the local Puntland authorities will arrest him, so he asked us to meet him outside Puntland. Even in the middle of the desert, he seemed cautious and did not want to be filmed. Boyah asked us to postpone shooting the interview until he reached his city, Eyl, which is known as the 'Pirates' Capital.'"

Pirate: "We Used to Be Regular Fishermen; Since the Collapse of the Somali Regime, Foreign Trawlers Have Plundered Our Marine Livelihood... As Long As No Solution Is Found... The Number of Pirates Will Rise Month By Month"

Boyah: "We used to be regular fishermen. Since the collapse of the Somali regime, foreign trawlers have plundered our marine livelihood and have destroyed our boats. When we tried to approach them, they opened fire on us. These problems drove us to take this action. It was the Puntland authorities that allowed the foreign trawlers to rob us of our marine livelihood. As long as no solution is found to this problem, the number of pirates will rise, month by month."

[...]

Reporter: "Here in Eyl, we saw what we only read about in geography books. Not only that, but we met Mr. Geography in person. He is a pirate from Eyl, who is jokingly known as 'Mr. Geography.'

Mr. Geography: "When I was a little boy at school, I excelled in geography. I used to tell my friends about stories and topics I learned in geography. I was in charge of the finances of one of the bands of pirates. We would generally hijack ships outside the Gulf of Aden, and would bring them to the coast of Eyl, where there are narrow bays, beyond the reach of the Puntland authorities. We have GPS devices, which tell us the ship’s course and how many miles it is from us."

Reporter: "The pirates take two vessels - one large and the other small. The large one carries their provisions, and when they approach the ship they want to hijack, the small boat, carrying the group of armed men, turns toward the ship, and they board it with a ladder."

Reporter: "This is One of 13 Ships Hijacked Near the Coast of Eyl"

"Among the ships whose hijacking was overseen by Mr. Geography near the Somali city of Bosaso were two Egyptian cargo ships - Mumtaz and Samarra. The third ship is Italian and is called Buccaneer 72. This footage shows some of the Egyptian hostages on board their ship, Mumtaz, which was hijacked a few days ago opposite the Gulf of Aden. The pirates are demanding ten million dollars in exchange for the release of the three ships."

Captain of hijacked ship: "I am the captain of the Mumtaz Masri."

Interviewer: "In what region do you operate?"

Captain: "In Somaliland."

Reporter: "Mr. Geography has hijacked many Egyptian ships.

[...]

"This is one of 13 ships hijacked near the coast of Eyl. One of the pirate leaders here told us that this ship is Japanese, and the Turkish and Ukrainian hostages on board have been waiting to be ransomed for over three weeks."

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