Wednesday, August 15, 2012
MOGADISHU - Somali pirates have begun honing their operations in hijacking ships off the country’s coast, informing ship owners with ever-more polished – if also tongue-in-cheek – notifications about the seizure of their ships and the process of calculating a ransom fee for their vessel.
The pirates are increasingly well-organized, even making use of their own packets of paperwork – on letterhead – in sending letters to their victims. “Having seen when my Pirate Action Group (P.A.G) had controlled over your valuable vessel we are saying to you Company/Owner welcome to Jamal’s Pirate Action Group (J.P.A.G) and you have to follow by our law to return back your vessel and crew safely,” said the copy of one such packet, presented to the owner of a hijacked oil tanker and the owner’s insurer after the ship was taken.
The cover sheet, in memo format, is addressed “To Whom It May Concern” with the subject line “Congratulations to the Company/Owner.”
The tone of the memo belies the violent reality of the pirate’s actions. “Do not imagine that we are making to you intimidation,” the memo said before signing off with “Best regards” and the signature of Jamal Faahiye Culusow, the general commander of the group.
Jamal provided the ship owners a breakdown of the value of their tanker, the oil it contained and also the worth of the crew, at least in his opinion, presenting a final demand figure for them to consider. “We will send to you after when we arrange something for the demanding ransom money and after when we finish the meeting among my group and resolve my problem,” he wrote in the second page of the kidnap packet.
In 2011 Somali piracy cost the world economy $7 billion and earned the pirates some $160 million in ransoms, according to a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).