School of Computer and Information Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
The waters off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden have been the location of a dramatic proliferation of pirate activities in recent years. Security officials around the world are concerned about the risks posed by Somali piracy to maritime shipping and to national security. These risks relate to the susceptibility of world trade shipments to terrorist attack and to the emergence of an increasingly powerful Islamist movement in Somalia with connections to global terrorist networks. Whilst Somali piracy has been the topic of growing media speculation, reliable information about the phenomenon is scant. This paper reports on research conducted in Kenya where over 100 Somalis are being prosecuted for piracy. It aims to give insight into the motivations of Somali pirates and argues that the weight of current evidence strongly suggests that piracy off the East African coast is strictly an economic crime.