NEWSWEEK: Why has there been such an increase Somali piracy?
In Somalia all the young men are desperate. There is wide unemployment in the country, there are no sources of income. One of the only sources we have had is fishing, and the superpowers and Asian countries sidelined us in our own sea. So at first we started out just to counter illegal fishing, but international forces started to protect them.
NEWSWEEK: Now the European Union is sending an additional naval force. Are you worried about the increased naval presence?
We know the EU and NATO forces are coming, but that is not the solution. The solution is to restore peace in Somalia so that we can have a better life and more job opportunities. I can tell you that sending forces will not stop us going into piracy. They can arrest us if they find us out at sea, they've arrested our friends several times, but that will never deter us from this business. The only thing that can stop piracy is a strong government in Somalia.
The most friendly forces in Somali waters are the U.S. forces. They arrest us and release us, because they know we are not going to hurt them. But the French and the Indians treat us badly and sometimes they don't know what they're doing. The Indians sunk that Thai boat [a fishing vessel reportedly taken over by pirates this month] and said it was pirates, but I tell you there was not a single pirate on that boat.
NEWSWEEK: Are you worried about another attack ashore, such as the one the French conducted, now that the U.N. has approved such attacks?
The French forces made two attacks. They arrested our friends, but French nationals will pay for that. If we get a ship with French nationals, we will punish the crew and they will pay double ransom. We're not worried about another attack [against pirates on land], because now we are on very high alert and they will never succeed with another raid.
NEWSWEEK: You justify piracy against all shipping even though your only complaint was against foreign fishing boats operating in your waters. Does that really make sense?
I justify it as a dirty business encouraged by the foreign forces that were escorting illegal fishing boats and toxic waste dumpers. And if they are escorting fishing boats, they can't escort all commercial shipping, and if we are forced to avoid fishing our waters, then those [commercial] ships are all our fish.
NEWSWEEK: How do you justify attacking pleasure yachts hundreds of miles offshore, or cruise liners, or even any vessel so far from Somalia?
Luxury yachts are what we are looking for, because what we need is money, and if we get a luxury yacht, we make a fortune.
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