Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Belgian Authorities Lure Pirates to Bruxelles with Promise of Fame

Mohamed Abdi Hassan, aka "Afweyne"

Mohamed Abdi Hassan, aka "Afweyne"

Right now there’s an alleged Somali pirate kicking himself in a cell in Bruges. Sneeky Belgian undercover agents tricked an internationally wanted pirate boss and his right-hand man into flying to Belgium to be the subjects of a documentary about the pirate’s careers on the high seas.

Alleged Somali pirate chief Mohamed Abdi Hassan, aka “Afweyne” (Big Mouth), and Mohamed Aden, aka “Tiiceey,” former  governor of Somali region Himan and Heeb and alleged pirate collaborator, flew into the Brussels airport on October 12, 2013. Expecting to be met by filmmakers or producers and whisked off in a limousine to act as advisers on the production of a film about Hassan’s career of piracy, hijackings and lucrative ransoms, they were instead surprised by police and taken into custody.

Map of Europe with the small but feisty Belgium in red

Map of Europe with the small, but feisty, Belgium in red

It reportedly took months, but apparently starved for the limelight, the retired Hassan finally took the bait and made the trip using, of all things, a diplomatic passport. He was wanted in Belgium for orchestrating and financing the 2009 capture of the Belgian ship Pompei by pirates. The Pompei and her crew were seized and held for ransom by the pirates for 70 days until the $3 million ransom was paid.

When Belgian authorities arrested two other men in connection with the taking of the Pompei, they discovered the identities of those behind the act, but realized that their international warrant would likely do little to bring in their quarry. So they used other tactics.

Hassan, described by the U.N as one of Somalia’s “most notorious and influential” pirates, is being held in Bruges charged with  kidnapping, piracy and organized crime.

The moral of the story? Don’t mess with Belgium.

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