One of Somalia’s most notorious pirate leaders, known as ‘Big Mouth’, has said he is retiring after years of terrorising the Indian Ocean, generating millions of dollars in ransoms from seized ships.
“After being in piracy for eight years, I have decided to renounce and quit, and from today on I will not be involved in this gang activity,” Mohamed Abdi Hassan, known as “Afweyne” or “Big Mouth”, told reporters.
He did not provide a reason for his decision but said he had been working to persuade other pirates to follow his example.
His announcement comes amid a sharp drop in the number of pirate attacks in Somalia, which are at a three-year low, thanks to tightened naval patrols and teams of armed security guards aboard ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Afweyne , whose son is also a much feared pirate commander, was involved in the 2008 capture of the Saudi-owned Sirius Star oil supertanker, released for a ransom of several million dollars.
Afweyne is also reported to have carried out a string of attacks against ships carrying World Food Programme aid to his war-torn and impoverished nation.
Last year he was reportedly given a diplomatic passport by Somalia’s then President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, according to the U.N. Monitoring Group’s June 2012 report.
Mr. Sharif told the U.N. experts that “Afweyne’s diplomatic status was one of several inducements intended to obtain the dismantling of his pirate network”, the report read. Somalia has been ravaged by a relentless conflict since 1991. — AFP