Middle-Man Negotiates Pirate Ransoms
According to a May 13 report from the Associated Press, a Somali “pirate middle-man” said he's made hundreds of thousands of dollars brokering deals to free ships and their cargos after pirates attack. The 32-year-old Somali, who would be identified only by his alias, Abdi Sheik, said he helped gain the release earlier this year of a supertanker carrying an estimated $150m of crude oil. He claims to have successfully negotiated the release of an arms-laden Ukrainian ship and the 20 sailors onboard. Details of his accounts of being a middle-man could not be entirely verified, but Sheik had previously provided AP with reliable inside information about hijacked ships and a business associate confirmed his involvement in ransom negotiations. Somali pirates have collected far more than $100m in the last several years. The International Maritime Bureau said sea attacks worldwide surged 39 percent in 2009 to 406 cases, the highest in six years.
(Source: Associated Press)