Pirates off Somalia's coast in the Horn of Africa are having a good time, hijacking ships, capturing its expensive cargo (which includes guns, tanks, among others) and crews, demanding huge ransoms (in one case demanding $35 million for a ship), at the same managing to hold at bay some of the world's most powerful navies.
On Wednesday a frustrated United States government circulated a United Nations Security Council resolution which would allow foreign forces to attack pirate bases on land. No word yet whether the Council's members would support the resolution.
The pirates meanwhile seem to understand that their defense does not only depend on arms. They clearly understand the worth of good PR. As reports from the region - by Western journalists covering that crisis indicate - Somali pirates clearly have a good understanding of how media works as this recent report from the NY Times when its East African correspondent managed to track some of them down, indicate:
Several pirates talked, but they said that only Mr. Sugule was authorized to be quoted.
And they can spin:
In a 45-minute interview, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the pirates wanted ("just money") to why they were doing this ("to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters") to what they had to eat on board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, "you know, normal human-being food").
He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits," he said. "We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard."
The best expression, however, is this report by CNN - using video shot by a Somali media organization -- showing their use of media: