A few days ago, Somali pirates hijacked a Ukrainian cargo ship 200 miles off the coast of Somalia. To their surprise, it was loaded with heavy artillery, tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition and officially destined for Kenya (or maybe Sudan?). The freight is worth approximately $30 million.
Apparently a 45-minute interview was conducted with the speaker of the pirates, in which he could spill his heart and explain to the world why piracy is a decent and honest business. Because overall, the pirates were not interested in the weapons on board of the ship and also did not intend to sell them to islamic insurgents active in Somalia. The speaker concluded that it was not fair to call pirates "sea bandits" because sea bandits were those people that illegally fished the oceans, spilled waste into the waters and carried weapons on the sea (?). He explained his mission as a coast guard-like one, consisting of rightfully patrolling the oceans. He also emphasized his bravery in stating that he was not afraid of all the American war ships (5 in total after the hijacking) surrounding the Ukrainian freighter, because apparently, "you only die once." As mentioned, the pirates did not want the weapons on board, just a cash ransom of $20 million to preserve them from hunger.
The pirates' mission has come a long way from the early beginnings of piracy on the Somalian coast, when they simply wanted to end illegal fishing in the area. After the Somalian government "imploded" in 1991, no more patrols were conducted along the coastline, which offers an abundance of tuna. Thus commercial fishers plundered the area. Back then, the pirates demanded taxes vigilante-style. However now, the pirates "attack everyone," according to a Somali diplomat.
Piracy in North Africa is also an issue to be addressed by AFRICOM. Now that it has been activated, one central command will be in charge of most of the continent, compared to three commands previously. This should help better coordinate any military activity against piracy. The American presence in the waters off the coast of Somalia prevented the pirates from loading weapons off the freighter and only allowed them access to provisions. While the Somali government wants Western nations to storm the ship because paying a ransom will only fuel further piracy, Western nations say that with the ship being full of explosives, this seems a slightly risky. Apparently Russian ships are also heading towards the area and to the rescue.
It is interesting that Kenya claims the arms on board the ship were part of a legal arms deal, but other sources claim that some weapons were secretly intended for southern Sudan.