x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A prized catch

Mohammed Abdi Hassan may have been a good pirate but at the end of the day he fell for an old trick.

This story has all the ingredients of a Hollywood film: drama, action and a compelling plot that revolves around the story of a pirate whose dream is hijacked by law enforcers.

The protagonist is Mohammed Abdi Hassan, a pirate kingpin, for whom the lure of celebrity proved irresistible – and fatal. He arrived in Belgium this week believing he was there to be interviewed for a documentary about his life story: money-making on the high seas. Instead, he landed behind bars and faces charges for the 2009 hijacking of the Belgian vessel Pompeii.

Described as “one of the most notorious and influential” leaders of piracy, Mr Hassan is a prized catch not for Belgium alone. His first big prize is thought to have been the Sirius Star, a Saudi supertanker, which he hijacked in 2008. The incident marked the moment that Somali piracy began to be considered a major threat by the international community. According to reports, maritime piracy cost the global economy about $6 billion (Dh22bn) last year. Billions are spent each year to fight this menace.

This is the first known use of a sting to catch someone who is normally beyond the reach of a global arrest warrant. This operation proves that setting a trap can be more effective than going hunting.