One man's pirate is another man's coastguard

A Somalian pirate chief has described himself as a Coastguard officer forced to defend his lawless country’s coastline. The muslim sailor – known only as Boyah – said the trouble began with giant trawlers from China, Taiwan and South Korea which raided Somali fishing ground. They used steel-pronged dragnets to get at the valuable lobster catch and ripped up the delicate reefs offshore in the process.

So then the ‘Coastguard’ moved in, headed by Boyah, hi-jacking three foreign fishing trawlers, keeping the catch and ransoming the crew. The next move in the chess game was taken by the fishing boat proprietors who used local warlords for protection who covered the trawlers with anti-aircraft guns fitted on ships.

That’s when Boyah and the Coastguard decided on commercial shipping instead. Boyah is now chairman of 500 coastguards , or pirates, and is proud of that fact that so far they have killed no-one. The only fatality to a hostage was when French commandos fired at pirates killing three but also one hostage as well.

Boyah gave his fascinating interview to author Jay Bahadur, who is writing a book on the pirates. The full interview appears in today’s Times newspaper.