Mohamed Abdi Hassan, a man once described by the UN as “one of the most notorious and influential leaders” in Somalian piracy, has announced his “retirement”.
Hassan, more commonly known by his alias ‘Big Mouth’, has renounced piracy and has claimed that he is to become an “anti-piracy officer”.
The role will include helping other pirates to give up their life of crime and reintegrate into society. Hassan says that he has already helped over a thousand young men to leave piracy behind them.
“We are convincing the youths to give up piracy… I have influence, and have been mobilising the community… to keep the men from the water,” he told AFP in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu.
Hassan has maintained that he does not consider himself to have been a pirate. “Perhaps you have heard a lot about this ship or that ransom… but 90% of what you hear in Somalia is false… I’m not saying I was not involved, for I was the one who initiated the fight,” he says.
Hassan says that the turbulent political situation in Somalia forced him to take drastic measure to survive: “It was legitimate because there was no government, we were like orphans without a father.”
Investment is needed to bring about a serious reduction in piracy in Somalia, according to Hassan, who says that full support must be given to pirates wanting to turn their lives around.
Piracy is estimate to cost the world economy around US$18 bn each year.