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Oct. 8 2009 - 5:09 am | 14 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

A journalist in the hands of Somali pirates

An armed suspected pirate looks over the edge ...

Somali pirates in action

Kassim Mohamed, a Nairobi-based freelance journalist, was doing a piece on Somali refugees in the city’s Eastleigh neighborhood. He heard rumors of Somali pirates laundering money through the neighborhood and investigated. That led him on a trip to Somalia where he met some pirates:

My Sony H4 Zoom recorder is my only companion as I keep the record button on, making sure that I leave evidence even if they end my life. At this point, I reflect on my initial questions that led me to this mission: Who is behind this trade and does it have links to the development that is on going back in Eastleigh? My nose for news is slowly being replaced by a desire to survive the ordeal. I keep praying for a quick intervention. I see July 31 as my last day on Earth.

Eventually, they release me, but not before a parting shot: Western forces must respect Somalia. “You must tell the international community that we are here to stay despite what the U.S., Russia, and France do,” the ringleader, Guled, said. “They should respect our waters and avoid dumping waste here.”

But I was adamant and wanted to get a story. Pausing and gauging my tone, I slowly whispered, “Do you have cohorts in Kenya?”

In a deep, husky voice, Guled answered, “Yes we do. Not just in Kenya but also Dubai, Germany, and even Canada. I will be honest: This business is bigger than you think. Though we carry out the operations, half the money goes to businessmen abroad who finance us and provide us with equipment.”

If you read one story today, read this. Mohamed has cojones of steel and this story is, frankly, amazing. He frequently reports in the region for Current TV. The two American journalists who were kidnapped in North Korea, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were both working on a story for Current TV at the time. They like the warzones, those guys.


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  1. collapse expand

    Wow! Kassim’s story is brilliant and an honest view of how bad things are off the coast of Somalia.What a real journalist? he is headed for an oscar, I hope True/Slant will award him for his bravery.
    Bravo Mohamed and thanks Neal for sharing!

  2. collapse expand

    Great work! i am so proud of his bravery.Very few are like him!
    Bravoooooooooooo.

  3. collapse expand

    Great experience and classically written piece of work!
    What an experience for a journalist.I hope he is mentally ok now?

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    About Me

    A New York-based journalist and blogger who has spent extensive time in the Middle East and is currently working on an MA thesis in Middle Eastern Studies. My thesis focuses on the 2009 Iranian election demonstrations and their coverage in the international media.

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    Contributor Since: July 2009
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