Somali pirates are being aided by an information-gathering “consultant” team in London, the Guardian reports. According to a European intelligence report, the pirates use satellite phones to stay in touch with the London cell, which has access to specific information about routes and ship layouts provided to European governments. In some cases, the “well placed informers” have been in contact with pirates aboard hijacked ships.
“The information that merchant ships sailing through the area volunteer to various international organizations is ending up in the pirates’ hands,” the report says. Hijackers have left British-flagged vessels alone recently, perhaps to protect their source of information. The report says the London informers steer pirates toward certain ships, and provide detailed plans of the ship’s design.