Bloodshed and Breaking Wave: The first outbreak of Somali Piracy
Ten years ago, Somalia suffered its first outbreak of piracy. In early 2005, pirates began appearing hundreds of nautical miles out at sea, attacking and hijacking vessels off the shores of central Somalia. However, the circumstances of this outbreak remain poorly understood. Why did pirate groups originate from an area with a negligible history of maritime predation? The present study explored the environment within which Somalia’s first outbreak of piracy occurred, and offers a critical re-think of its origins. Drawing on the author’s own extensive fieldwork as well as contemporary reports, the study explored how pirate ventures were launched after the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004 had obliterated the coastal economy. The tsunami coincided with the eruption of a deadly and highly destabilising conflict, unprecedented for a coastal area that had remained relatively peaceful since the state collapse in 1991. The tsunami and the establishment of the South Mudug piracy model in Harardhere and Hobyo in 2005 laid the foundation for a decade of ransom piracy.