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GQ: "The Pirates Have Seized the Ship"

Author: Jeffrey Gettleman
March 18, 2009


Even as gunboats from across the globe move into their waters, the desperate, well-armed, and increasingly bold bandits of Somalia keep swarming the decks of the world's largest ships. They take what they want, they don't leave until the (higher and higher) ransoms are paid, and they won't stop until a modern-day war against piracy breaks out.

Excerpt: Our little plane buzzed over the crumbling dunes, and the midday sun made the wasteland beneath us look impossibly bright and lifeless. We crossed over a ridge of mountains that gave way to a long empty beach and then a vast, beautiful expanse of teal blue. The pilot cut our speed, and the plane began its descent into Boosaaso, a booming pirate city and a portal into the chaotic underworld of Somalia.

The airport in Boosaaso is like most in this country, a strip of gravel with an outhouse and a corrugated-iron shack where a few veiled women stirred a murky pot of tea. Outside, in the thin lattice of shade provided by thorn trees, lurked the mooryaan, the half-starved young men with glassy eyes and loaded Kalashnikovs who haunt every nook and cranny of this country. Some of them wore military fatigues that drooped off their shoulders, making them look like boys in men's clothing, which they were. They watched as the plane rolled to a halt and the pilot opened the cabin door.

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