Somali Pirates Have Connections in North America
Somali pirates are believed to have extended networks of cooperators in North America. Somali expatriates living in Canada and the US are believed to offer financial and administrative support to the pirates, making piracy a very well organized international criminal syndicate. Pirates are in need of financial resources to go on their errands, and need sponsors. The money required is pooled from Somali expatriates living all over the world to invest in piracy with the promise of getting cash dividends back. Procuring such indispensable things as money counters is not an easy task for pirates, as is finding the right person to talk to about ransom. This is where help from outside is necessary. The publicized Canadian connection is Mohamud Muse Hersi, the president of Puntland, an autonomous region in Somalia where many pirate ships are known to dock, who used to be a gas station operator in Ottawa, Canada. Obviously, many Somali Canadians do not support pirates.
A dramatic spike in piracy in African waters this year is backed by an international network of mostly Somali expatriates stretching as far as Canada, say law enforcement officials, researchers and the pirates themselves.
The expatriates, including reputedly some among the 200,000 Somalis living in Canada, offer funds, equipment and information in exchange for a cut of the ransoms, according to those familiar with the phenomenon.
With help from the network, Somali pirates have brought in at least $30 million (U.S.) in ransom so far this year, they say.
"We have negotiators, translators and agents in many areas ... let me say across the world," said Ahmed Dahir Suleyman, a pirate in the harbour town of Eyl, where scores of hijacked ships are docked.
"These people help us during exchanges of ransom and finding out the exact person to negotiate with."