The Christian Science Monitor and the BBC are reporting that some Somalis have formed vigilante groups to fight back against pirates in the northeastern part of the country. It is claimed that 12 individuals and two boats have been taken by the vigilantes, who are angered by the activities of pirates in their waters. It is possible that the suspects could face the death penalty if convicted by the local authorities.
Actions like this should be a reminder that not every Somali is a pirate or a pirate supporter. Far from it. Pirates have had a dire impact on the people living there, intercepting aid shipments and deflecting international attention from the plight of the ordinary Somalis.
But, more importantly, this should help to put to rest the myth that is making the rounds, the one that says pirates are trying to protect the fishery and the defend the ability of Somalis to make a living from the sea. As I've said before, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing off the Somali coast is an issue, absolutely, as is the dumping of toxic waste. However, the idea that pirates are some sort of Robin Hoods is baseless. With the weaponry they have used in attacks on vessels, these pirates could easily have protected their own fishermen had that really been of interest to the criminals. You don't attack UN World Food Programme-chartered ships if you're protecting your own people. You don't capture families on yachts. And you don't target cruise ships.
None if this has anything to do with "protecting" the Somali people. It is a lie that needs to be refuted, not supported.