For his story on the economics of Somali piracy, WIRED contributing editor Scott Carney spoke to one of the ocean-going hijackers. They talked about how to negotiate a ransom, when to kill a hostage, and how to avoid the Navy:
How do you pirates decide on what ransom to ask for? What makes them negotiate downwards?
Once you have a ship, it’s a win-win situation. We attack many ships everyday, but only a few are ever profitable. No one will come to the rescue of a third-world ship with an Indian or African crew, so we release them immediately. But if the ship is from Western country or with valuable cargo like oil, weapons or then its like winning a lottery jackpot. We begin asking a high price and then go down until we agree on a price
How much does it cost to outfit a pirate mission?
A single mission with 12 armed men and boats costs a little over $30,000. But a successful investor has to dispatch at least three or four missions to get lucky once.