June 28, 2010:
For the first time, a Somali pirate turned against his fellow brigands, to help a captured crew kill its guards and get away. For the crew of the cargo ship Rim, this was a lifesaver. In this case, one of the pirates (a 13 year old boy named Ahmed), who served as a cook, grew friendly with the crew. He brought them a SIM card for a cell phone the crew had hidden from the pirates, as well as extra food. The problems was that no one wanted to ransom the ship. The pirates originally asked for $3 million in ransom, and kept reducing that until it reached $300,000. No one would pay.
The reason, it transpired, was because the Libyan owner had recently sold the ship for scrap, and after its current cargo of ceramics clay was delivered to Yemen, the ship would move on to India, where it would be broken up. The small (4,800 ton) transport, MV Rim, was taken by pirates last February. The ship was owned, until shortly before its last voyage, by Libyans, and registered in North Korea. When captured, the ship was uninsured.
When the pirates realized there would be no ransom, they sought to arrange for someone to buy the organs of the crew. The crew were told by Ahmed about this plan to kill them. They convinced Ahmed to get them three AK-47s. Then, on June 2nd, the Rim crew killed the six pirates guarding them, and got the ship underway. With other pirates in pursuit in another hijacked ship, the Rim crew called the anti-piracy patrol. Shortly thereafter, the 37 year old engine of the Rim died. Just in time, an armed helicopter showed up, and forced the pursuing pirate ship to back off. Then a warship showed up and took the crew, and Ahmed, off the Rim. The crew were sent home, the Rim was simply cut loose, and may later be sunk (the anti-piracy patrol is keeping track of it, and perhaps inspecting it, because of the North Korean connection). Ahmed was taken aboard a Dutch warship, and has disappeared. It's believed that the Dutch quietly gave the boy asylum. Somali custom makes Ahmed responsible for the death of the six Somali guards, and Ahmed will have to disappear into some form of witness protection status to survive.