Bad news for any Somali pirates hoping to cash in on all this Captain Phillips hype: On Saturday, Belgian authorities arrested an alleged pirate kingpin from Somalia after luring him to Brussels with a job offer on a film that would “mirror his life as a pirate.”
According to Belgian officials, Mohamed Abdi Hassan led a 2009 hijacking against the Belgian-owned dredger ship the Pompeii; Abdi Hassan and his men held the ship's crew captive for 10 weeks, releasing them only after they were paid a large ransom.
"(Abdi Hassan is) one of the most important and infamous kingpin pirate leaders, responsible for the hijacking of dozens of commercial vessels from 2008 to 2013," Belgian prosecutor Johan Delmulle told the Associated Press. The U.N. has described Hassan as "one of the most notorious and influential leaders" of a major Somali pirate organization.
Abdi Hassan was nearly captured in Malaysia in 2012, but authorities there released him after receiving a letter from Somalia's government. Soon after, Belgian authorities hatched the movie scheme. Working undercover as filmmakers, the authorities contacted one of Abdi Hassan's accomplices, a man named Tiiceey, about a job as an adviser on the film, which authorities said would be based on Abdi Hassan's life. Tiiceey and Abdi Hassan – who is also known as “Loud Mouth" – agreed and boarded a flight to Belgium from Kenya.
When they landed on Saturday, both were arrested, jailed, and charged with the 2009 hijacking. They'll appear in court on Tuesday in Bruges.
[Image of unidentified Somali pirate via AP]