- By Elizabeth DickinsonElizabeth Dickinson is a Gulf-based American journalist and former assistant managing editor at Foreign Policy.
Those following the pirate lairs of Somalia have long known that the assailants who hijack ships and terrorize the seas are more organized than they appear (Credit here goes to FP contributor and pirate watcher J. Peter Pham). Far from the sailboat-driving kids they might look like, the pirates are serious business. And business is exactly what they’re into.
The business of ‘stocks,’ to be precise. Reuters reports that the pirates have set up an exchange in Haradheere, the main port used by the buccaneers, where shares are traded in a whopping 72 pirate outfits. The profits have so far bought countless SUVs, other luxury goodies, and even a slice of revenue for the local government programs. Says the pirate interviewed for the piece:
“The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.”
Well no wonder piracy won’t go away. Given the options (poverty, militancy, theft), who wouldn’t become a pirate? Besides, one wouldn’t want to disappoint the shareholders.
As I argued earlier this year, piracy is becoming increasingly like drug trafficking: it’s not the little guys who you want to go after. It’s the big financial gurus who are making bank. In that vein, news of a ‘stock market’ of sorts might just be good news. That money must be being laundered somewhere… meaning there’s a chance financial sanctions could cut deep. It’s pirates’ pockets that are their Achilles heels.
Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images