November 20, 2008

Who is Helping These Damn Pirates?

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Saudi tanker in the Indian Ocean this week will likely rake in their biggest ever ransom. The oil on the tanker, the largest ship ever taken, is more than a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily output, worth $100 million. But tracing that ransom payout may also begin to unravel the complex banking arrangements, originating in Dubai, that have allowed pirate groups to collect as much as $30 million this year.

The pirates are now holding nearly 150 hostages from at least nine vessels from Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Germany, Nigeria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Just last week, a record four ships were seized in one 48-hour period, including a 26,000-ton Iranian cargo carrier.

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