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Al Jazeera Hangs Out With, Annoints Somali “Pirate Kings”


06.15.09 Bucky Turco

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Al Jazeera scored an exclusive with Somali pirates from Puntland, an infamous stronghold of the popular maritime marauders and got all sorts of cool stories, photos, and even a video (see below). The news organization presented a mostly sympathetic portrait of the modern day buccaneers, not to be confused with the likes of Blackbeard or Captain Hook, writing:

“They don’t wear eye-patches or peg legs and you won’t find any parrots perched on their shoulders, but they are no less pirates for that. Twenty-first century piracy Somali style is a far cry from the swashbuckling, sea dogs of old but, in recent months, they have captured both the headlines and the public’s imagination.”

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They go on to explain how at least piracy has “forced the media to focus on Somalia, arguably the globe’s most neglected tragedy.” Well that’s one way to look at it. Here’s some other things you may not know about these local heroes:

Communal booty: Far from pillaging criminals, they’re considered the “Robin Hoods of the sea.” According to this report, they spread the wealth: 30% to financier, 50% to pirate crew, 20% to supporting staff and the poor.

People love ’em: Many residents appreciate what the so called “defenders of the nation’s fisheries” are doing and claim their “tuna-rich waters” have been plundered by commercial multinationals since 1991. Said one local, “I don’t call them pirates – they are our marines. They are protecting our resources from those looting them. They are not criminals.”

Photos by EPA/BADRI MEDIA