|Join Our Mailing List|
The pirate gang holding the six hostages from hijacked vessel MV LEOPARD, fought over the weekend following a dispute over the ongoing ransom negotiations. The rift resulted in pirate leader, Ilyagoon to take the hostages from the Fatxi gang by force from Hobyo, and move them to Garacad. Somalia Report spoke with Ali Jareer, a member of the pirate gang, who confirmed the development.
“The issue is that the pirates had not signed a contract, which prompted distrust between the various pirate commanders involved. Fatxi and Xaye Hurde, the gang leaders, were planning to release the hostages for $4 million, but Ilyagoon suspected that the actual ransom amount was higher. This is what precipitated the fight - thankfully there were no casualties. On Saturday afternoon, Ilyagoon and some of his special guards managed to grab the hostages and move them to Garacad," Ali Jareer told Somalia Report from Hobyo.
A pirate in Harardheere said that Ilyagoon moved the hostages to the outskirts of Garacad, where his clan, the Dir, is more dominant. Fatxi and Xayle Hurde are both from the Sacad clan. The group is one of largest and most powerful operating out of Hobyo and Harardheere.
The incident provides some interesting insight into pirate group dynamics. While it is widely believed that Somalia's social structures are rigidly built around clan lines, there are plethora of exceptions, particularly within the pirate community. Piracy is a for profit business, and gang leaders are well aware of the benefits of recruiting along meritocratic lines rather than clan bias. As evidenced in this case, however, clan alliances will always offer an attractive refuge.
Sources have speculated that Fatxi and Xayle Hurde are planning to seize back the hostages, and return to Hobyo.
Such a move could provoke a clash between the Dir and Sacad clans. While the rift is unlikely to spread beyond the individual gangs involved, some have claimed that the disagreement could escalate given longstanding rivalries between the two clans. This particular issue is a criminal one, however, and has no roots in historical clan conflicts, so the disagreement is unlikely to galvanise broader clan populations.
Relations between the two clans have never been smooth, and fatal clashes stemming from land rights issues (amongst others) pepper their history. In March 2008, the two groups fought over a land dispute, resulting in 10 deaths and 20 injuries. While the immediate conflict was precipitated by the specific land issue, the violent escalation is attributable to longstanding simmering tensions.
If the ransom negotiations are in the final stages, as is claimed by pirate sources in Hobyo, the prospect of losing access to however many millions of dollars could very well encourage the two sides to significantly reinforce their 'security'. Oftentimes in such cases, local elders are brought in to mediate, however there is no evidence to suggest that any such efforts have been made.
The six hostages (four Filipinos and two Danes) were kidnapped by pirates from the MV LEOPARD on January 12, 2010. Soon after pirates boarded the vessel, a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft arrived on the scene, prompting the pirates to escape from the vessel with the crew onto a nearby mothership.