Posted by Brad @ 6:36 pm on October 16th 2013

Perfidy and that Somali Pirate

So this weird hobby horse of mine. See Bin Laden raid, Colombia hostage rescue

Anyway, out of Belgium – officials undercover convinced a Somali pirate wanted for attacking Belgium vessels (who had publicly retired from pirating) that they wanted him to consult on a movie reflecting his life and on maritime piracy. So he traveled to Belgium and was promptly arrested. Yoink.

Problem is, there are, you know, real journalists and producers out in the world in dangerous places talking to dangerous people for both journalistic and artistic enterprises, and they have a hard enough time doing so without being kidnapped or killed. This is a particular problem in Somali, where the perception that journalists are probably undercover spies is fairly widespread, which is the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world, and where 12 journalists were killed trying to get stories last year alone. So you can imagine that, while Belgium officials are congratulating themselves on how clever they were, some poor schlub in Somali right now actually trying to do a story on maritime piracy or a notorious pirate’s life might be a little less appreciative.


  1. Distinction:

    The compelling collective interest in vaccinations and in not having medical personnel shot at probably dejustifies the first two operations.

    If the countervailing interest is in compelling journalistic exposes of pirates, though, I think the law and order concerns trump.

    Comment by Rojas — 10/16/2013 @ 8:04 pm

  2. You don’t think there’s a compelling collective interest in journalism or third party observers in war zones, hot zones, or with people wanted by law enforcement or international powers?

    It may be of a slightly different kind, but I’d disagree pretty vehemently – and particularly if you’re going to start making aesthetic choices or judgments of the quality of journalism or nobleness of purpose. I’m not sure I’d want an Afghan warlord sitting there trying to decide the difference between Parade magazine and the Washington Post, or Steven Spielberg versus Ken Burns, in deciding whether to behead the dude or not. And, more to the point, it’s not like they’ll bother if dudes showing up asking questions with promise of media output and not legal or military action might probably be assumed to be spies or government agents.

    Comment by Brad — 10/16/2013 @ 8:42 pm

  3. Example:

    Jump to 1:45 of this interview.

    That’s still pretty “lightweight” in terms of the journalism, but it would be nice to think more warlords/pirates/druglords/terrorists etc won’t be less inclined to make that last bit a joke when interview requests sometimes come with the promise of undercover ops.

    Comment by Brad — 10/16/2013 @ 8:51 pm

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