One of Somalia's most notorious pirate leaders announced his retirement and renounced piracy on Wednesday (January 9th), after eight years of terrorising vast areas of the Indian Ocean and generating multimillion-dollar ransoms, AFP reported.
"After being in piracy for eight years, I have decided to renounce and quit, and from today on I will not be involved in this gang activity," said Mohamed Abdi Hassan, known as Afweyne. "I have also been encouraging many of my colleagues to renounce piracy too, and they have done it."
Last year, a report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea described Hassan as "one of the most notorious and influential leaders" in Somalia's pirate-hub region of Hobyo.
His men were reportedly involved in the 2009 capture of the MV Faina, a Ukrainian transport ship carrying 33 refurbished battle tanks, which was released for a reported $3 million ransom. He was also reportedly involved in the 2008 capture of the Saudi-owned Sirius Star super tanker, also released for a ransom of several million dollars.
While piracy attacks have been rampant off the coast of Somalia for decades, they have plummeted to a three-year low, thanks to beefed-up international naval patrols and increased vigilance and persecution by local authorities.