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May 11, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2346

Somali MP Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: Companies in Arab and Western World Cooperate with Pirates, Tipping Them Off About Ships

May 11, 2009
Africa, Somalia | Special Dispatch No. 2346

Following are excerpts from an interview with Somali MP Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi, which aired on Al-Hiwar TV on April 17, 2009:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2096.

"When [Somalia's] Government Collapsed... Ships Belonging to Western Companies Began to Take Advantage of the Absence of Government Control"

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: "When the government collapsed, Somalia, with its long coastline, unparalleled in Africa, became [a country] without a coast guard, without a functioning government, and without a naval force. What happened is that ships belonging to Western companies began to take advantage of the absence of government control, and to catch fish that are protected by international law, using illegal means, like fine nets that are banned by international law. There is an international standard for the size of the holes in the net..."

Interviewer: "Nets that are internationally banned..."

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: "These nets scoop up everything in the sea. In addition, some countries get rid of their waste in the sea. These countries, or these companies, which were combing the sea [for fish] with these large ships, posed a threat to the lives of the fishermen on the Somali coasts. These fishermen were no longer able to fish. When they set out to fish in the places they were familiar with, they did not find what they always used to find, and they had to go further out to sea, where these ships would chase and kill them." [...]

The Message Was: "You Are Free to Take Over the Ships Flying Non-Western Flags"

"By freeing the hostages, the message conveyed to the pirates was: Do not attack any American or Westerner. The first [rescue attempt] was on Friday, with the French hostage, and then the American hostage was freed this way. In the course of the rescue operations, pirates were killed. [The message was:] You are free to take over the ships flying non-Western flags, and whose captains or crews are from non-Western countries.

[...]

"Some of the Puntland police join the pirates. They leave the police, or maybe they work for both, God only knows."

Interviewer: "During the day, they work as policemen, and at night, they join the pirates?"

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: "Yes, that's possible. A statement along these lines was made by an official in the Eyl district, which is where the pirates live. The day after he said this, he was dismissed from his post.

[...]

"In an interview with the Somali department of the BBC, a young girl said that her greatest desire was to marry a pirate. The pirates have a lot of money. They have villas. They marry four wives. You could devote a whole program to the pirates' lifestyle."

Interviewer: "What you are saying about them might tempt us all to work as pirates..."

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: "Well said."

Interviewer: "Why don't you ask them if they are looking for journalists?"

[...]

"The U.S. views it as a heroic commando operation. This American Rambo mentality... Do the Somalis view [the operation] as a violation of their honor?"

"The Solidarity of Many People May Shift Toward the Pirates, and People May Consider Joining Them to be a Form of Jihad"

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Hadi: "In my view, if things get any worse, and there is a real confrontation between the pirates and the Americans, the solidarity of many people may shift toward the pirates, and people may consider joining them to be a form of Jihad. These voices have begun to emerge. Sheik Hasan Al-Turki, from the Ras Kamboni area, said in a sermon a few days ago that the pirates are mujahideen, but without a reward.

[...]

"The pirates consist of three groups. The first consists of the militias of the veteran warlords, who were abandoned by their leaders. They are armed and well trained, they have seen battle, and they are ferocious.

"The second group consists of local fisherman. They provide their experience at sea. They have naval skills, and they know the fishing routes. When the pirates go to sea, they are in need of naval experience, and this is provided by the local fishermen.

"The third group consists of educated people - lawyers and teachers, who are fluent in foreign languages, and know how to use advanced computer and naval monitoring systems. When negotiations are conducted with the outside world, they play an active role because they speak foreign languages. These groups unite to form the pirates." [...]

"There Are Foreign Powers Who Cooperate With the Pirates, And There Are Many Who Stand to Gain"

"There are foreign powers who cooperate with the pirates, and there are many who stand to gain. I have been told by people who were in touch with the pirates that in Dubai, Yemen, Britain, Kenya, and in many other places, there are people who work for companies dealing with the ports and airports and with the shipping industry, who call the pirates and tell them that a certain ship has left a certain port, and will pass through the area at a specific time."

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