Surprising Sting Leads to Somali Pirate Chief Arrest

Believed he was flying to Belgium to make a movie about his life
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2013 3:52 PM CDT
Surprising Sting Leads to Somali Pirate Chief Arrest
The Belgian ship Pompei, which Belgian authorities believe was hijacked by Mohamed Abdi Hassan.   (AP Photo/ Belgian Government)

(Newser) – The kingpin of one of Somalia's most successful pirate gangs has been arrested, after undercover Belgian agents pulled the old "you should fly to Europe so we can make a movie about your life" trick. Mohamed Abdi Hassan—also known as "Afweyne" and "Big Mouth"—thought he was flying to Brussels to help make a movie based on his life as a pirate. Instead, he was cuffed after walking off the plane, charged with hijacking a Belgian ship and kidnapping its crew in 2009, the Telegraph reports. Also nabbed in the sting was Mohamed "Tiiceey" Aden, who was involved in the 2009 abduction of a UK couple from their yacht.

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"After patiently starting a relationship of trust with Tiiceey, and through him with Afweyne, which took several months, both were prepared to participate in this (film) project," says a Belgian federal prosecutor. Ironically, Hassan would actually make a pretty great movie character: his other notable adventures on the high seas include allegedly ransoming Saudi tanker the Sirius Star for $3 million in 2009, and a Ukrainian ship for $3.2 million the same year. Hassan had retired from his life of crime in exchange for a diplomatic passport from the Somali government. But the Belgians weren't going to let him get away that easily. "Too often, these people remain beyond reach while they let others do the dirty work," says the prosecutor, per the AP. (Read more Mohamed Abdi Hassan stories.)

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