An accused Somali pirate kingpin has been arrested in Belgium after being lured there in a “sting” operation by police posing as a film crew, The Telegraph reported
For months, Belgian undercover agents told the suspect, Mohamed Abdi Hassan — who allegedly made millions as one of Somalia’s most successful pirate bosses — that they wanted to feature him in a documentary.
But when he landed at Brussels airport on Saturday, they arrested him on criminal charges that include hijacking, according to the BBC
Also arrested in the sting was Mohamed Aden, the governor of Adado, a town in southern Somalia. Aden is said to have turned Adado into a stable place where local pirates can conduct delicate hostage negotiations and collect ransoms.
He is a naturalized Somali-American who previously lived in Minneapolis.
Hassan was described in a U.N. report last year as "one of the most notorious and influential leaders" of the pirate network in Hobyo and Haradhere, two remote pirate havens in eastern Somalia.
He was reportedly given a diplomatic passport by Mogadishu after publicly renouncing piracy and promising to try to persuade other pirates to follow his example, according to The Telegraph.
But Belgian officials were apparently not so impressed by Hassan’s diplomatic status. Authorities suspected that Hassan was involved in the 2009 hijacking of a Belgian ship, a crime for which two other Somalis have already been arrested and sentenced.
"All too often those persons stay out of the frame and let others carry out their dirty business," said Belgian federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle in announcing the arrest.
The prosecutor said Hassan was asked through Aden if he would work as an adviser on a film about piracy, portraying his life as a millionaire hijacker. The documentary ruse could come under fire for endangering legitimate filmmakers.
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