Interview with a Pirate

Scott Carney of WIRED interviewed a Somali pirate for his story on the economics of Somali piracy. They talked about ransom negotiation and the pirates’ conditions for killing the hostages.

Here’s an excerpt of Scott Carney’s exclusive interview:

How do you pirates decide on what ransom to ask for? What makes them negotiate downwards?
Once you have a ship, it’s a win-win situation. We attack many ships everyday, but only a few are ever profitable. No one will come to the rescue of a third-world ship with an Indian or African crew, so we release them immediately. But if the ship is from Western country or with valuable cargo like oil, weapons or then its like winning a lottery jackpot. We begin asking a high price and then go down until we agree on a price.

Under what conditions would you kill the hostages?

Hostages — especially Westerners — are our only assets, so we try our best to avoid killing them. It only comes to that if they refuse to contact the ship’s owners or agencies. Or if they attack us and we need to defend ourselves.

More of the interview on WIRED – Danger Room