Somali piracy and anarchy OCT 18 2010
From The New York Review of Books, an overview of the bleak Somali pirate situation.
There's no doubt that in Somalia, crime pays-it's about the only industry that does. There is even a functioning pirate stock exchange in Xarardheere, where locals buy "shares" in seventy-two individual pirate "companies" and get a respectable return if the company is successful. Most of the money, though, is frittered away. Boyah, who personally has made hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions, asked me for cigarettes when I met him. When I asked what happened to all his cash, he explained: "When someone who never had money suddenly gets money, it just goes." He also said that because of the extended network of relatives and clansmen, "it's not like three people split a million bucks. It's more like three hundred."
The pirates used to be fisherman who moved from defending their fishing territory by boarding foreign ships to collect "fines" to more lucrative full-blown piracy. (thx, tom)