The work of pirates, what with the murdering and kidnapping, is not the most polite way to earn a living. But, as Somali pirate Jamal Faahiye Culusow proves, that doesn't mean you have to be ungentlemanly about it.
According to Reuters reporter Ben Berkowitz, the memo above was part of a packet of paperwork delivered recently to the owner of a hijacked oil tanker and the owner's insurer. "Congratulation to the Company/Owner," opens the memo in broken English:
Having seen when my Pirate Action Group (P.A.G) had controlled over your valuable vessel we are saying to you Company/Owner welcome to Jamal's Pirate Action Group (J.P.A.G) and you have to follow by our law to return back your vessel and crew safely.
Later, the tone gets more threatening: "In order to fulfill my suggestion you have to accept every step I want you to do it, otherwise you will lose the vessel and the crew..." The memo is sealed with Jamal's official "Jamal's Pirate Action Group" stamp.
As insane as robbers and thieves sending out polite memos seems, people close to the piracy say it's par for the course in an industry that's become increasingly formalized and transactional. "They want to get the money," a ransom negotiation expert told Berkowitz. "If they present themselves and behave as someone who will live up to their commitment to give us the package in good condition, we are much more likely to go ahead and pay the ransom easily and efficiently."
Last year, Somali pirates got away with $160 million in ransoms, which is at least enough to get some proper letterhead next time.