616: I Am Not a Pirate


Support for this. American. Life comes from squarespace, make your website your own with the ability to customize, look and feel settings products and more for a free trial of your new website. Visit squarespace dot com slash American and enter American squarespace think it dream it. Make it. When I was a kid. I was one hundred percent about astronauts, spaceships Saifi, and I was zero present pirates. The fact that pirates were bad asses that they didn't obey rules that they were rebels that did not speak to the little nerd boy that I was one of our producers on a Baker. She was into priorites GI tau scary. They were she told me this amazing story that has been her favourite since she first heard it true story about a man named Steed bonnet who is known as the gentleman pirate. Am basically it takes place in the early seventeen hundreds. I he was from Barbados. So he grew up on a plantation sugar plantation to one of the wealthiest families in Barbados he had ninety four slaves. He was married have three kids, and he traveled in high society, which is unusual for a pirate vast majority of people who turn the piracy did. So out of desperation in this man didn't twos. This. So I've told this story so many times too. So. Many people that I just wanted to make sure I was getting the facts, right? So I decided to talk to a pirate historian. That's Mark Hanna. He's also a professor at UC San Diego. The vast majority of buyers start their lives by mutinying or they gather a crew together, and they steal ship from someone. He actually had a ship built thought I will go down to local shipyard. I'll have my ship built according the specifications that I think are best. And then he hired a crew, and he paid them wages like regular normal people wages, which was like a big. No, no, no. The vast majority of parts that you don't capture ship. You don't make any money you want your crew to be invested in the outcome of attacking ship. So if you know, hey, I'm doing, okay. I know I'll be paid this week. You're going to be a little less aggressive about capturing a ship. And so I think on it right off the bat didn't understand the economic model that is the basis of most pirate attacks. And why did he why did he want to be a pirate? Like what kind of? Midlife crisis is just like, I'm a wealthy landowner with a wife and three kids and I'm gonna go marauding on the seven seas. Well, I it's explained in a book from seventeen twenty four this way. Captain Charles Johnson wrote, quote, this humor of going a pirating proceeded from disorder in his mind, which is said to have been occasioned by some discomfort C found in a married state. Wait. What what what is? He say. He says and other books say the same thing that I what led him to piracy was that he had a nagging wife. No way, they're blaming the wife, they blame the nagging wife so bonnet has this ship built. And he calls it the revenge, and he makes sure that it has a cabin with a well stocked library, which doesn't seem that weird. If you're going to be on a boat for months at a time that you have a lot of books. Most pirates are illiterate IRA after he had absolutely no idea what he was getting into. I think he might have heard stories in the local taverns about the excitement of life at sea. Perhaps he had heard stories that you can go to other islands, and maybe meet other women. But clearly he had no idea what he was getting into. And it seems like the reality set in very soon after he started off on his voyage. And this is what I love about. This story is that instead of just dreaming of this alternate life where he's a bad guy. He goes for it. And. He's the worst pirate. Like, he does everything wrong. Like, for instance, the captain of the pirate ship is supposed to be the most experienced sailor, and bonnet has no experience sailing. So it looks like when he was about to attack ship. He would have to look around and ask advice, which is not something you want to be seen doing as a captain. You wanna be seen as decisive fast aggressive, but they have a few successes. You know, they take a few ships heaving gets a reputation. This is when they start calling him the gentleman pirate. Does he kill people? No. Actually, he's kind of a nice pirate. He captures people. He takes their goods. And then he lets them go good. But then he tacks a big ship. A Spanish man of war and over thirty of his men are killed or wounded. And it's a huge disaster. Bonnet is gravely injured, and they have to escape and flee to the Bahamas and there he met one most iconic pirates in world history. Edward teach is better known. As blackbeard. Yeah. This is where the story takes a remarkable turn. So basically, here's this guy who has idolized pirates, and who does he happen upon, but basically the most famous pirate in the world who is in fact, bonnets polar opposite. He's a successful sailor. He's aggressive he's decisive. He's cruel. He sadistic. But he's also charisma attic and bold as opposed to bonnet who's indecisive nervous and Blackbeard was this consummate performer was incredibly violent. He was unpredictable. There's a reason he's one of the most famous pirates even pirates were like, whoa. This guy is out of control, and he would first appear on your ship. He would have prepared for that moment by tying these pieces of twine called slow matches into his long big beard, and he would light them on fire just as he appeared. So that there was this cloud of smoke and in the smoke. You would just see the eyes of Blackbeard. So he looked like he was appearing out of hell. I don't understand that at all. I could just seems like the fire would catch fire to his beard. He had a method. I'm sure. And this was actually a strategy. Their whole thing was to inspire as much terror as possible because if they may do incredibly afraid you would give up the ship without a fight. Oh, this never occurred to me the second. So the skull and crossbones and all that it's all like a brand to make people scared. Yeah. Their brand was death. They arrive with a school in crossbows. If you think death is coming for you, you're going to surrender. But in fact, some pirates Blackbeard they didn't even kill many people. In fact, there's no evidence Blackbird ever killed anyone till the very end. So it was very theatrical. They're putting on a show, and they understood that and I like imagining these pirates rid of scheming and plotting it out being no ever really gonna this is so scary. Basically, the most skilled pirate needs the least skilled and Blackbeard treats bonnet in a very friendly manner. Which is uncharacteristically of Blackbeard bonnet is gravely injured Blackbeard comes on board and says all captain your ship as help to you. Yes. Extremely rich, man. Yes. So what he's doing? Exactly. All right. He let's bonnet sort of hang out in and he'll in the captain's quarters. Well, he captains the ship. So do we know what Blackbeard gets out of this? We don't know. But bonnets novelty Blackbeard wouldn't have gotten a chance to ever hang out with an aristocrat the end up being together for almost a year. Wow. And at some point black bear gives bonnet his ship back. And when bonnet final goes out on his own again, he fails at pirating so badly his crew begs Blackbeard, they're like, we cannot work. For this guy. He is a terrible pirate. Please take over this shit and so black beard intervenes. And he puts his second in command in charge of bonnet ship, and he invites bonnet over just to stay on his ship for a while. Then he tells him, you know, you're just not cut out for this lifestyle. Just just sail with me. So again, it's sort of this ruse of like hang out with me, put your feet up, relax. This was a transformative moment for Monnet. I think this was a moment when he realized he made a huge mistake. In fact, Kevin Charles Johnson recalled that he at this moment saw has folly and quote, he reflected upon his, past course of life and was confounded with shame. When he thought upon what he had done. So he clearly fell into a deep deep depression because he was like, oh, I had a midlife crisis. And I left my wife and three kids and now I'm pirate. And I'm at it. Yes. That's exactly right. In fact, he he tells the rest of the pirates he actually really regrets actually becoming a pirate in the rest of the pirates are sort of embarrassed to look at him. Yeah. And in fact, one of the historical account said that when he ventured out on deck. He Warren elegant morning gown. And usually carried the book he was reading in his hands. And then he would sort of silk with despair. So he has all this regret about being a pirate. And then something incredible happens, which is that the king issues this decree that there is a pardon available for pirates, and you can return to your life without any criminal charges. So when they get to port he takes the pardon and bonnets plan is to become a privateer with a it's like a mercenary navy that works for the king. Okay. But when he gets back to ship Blackbeard has betrayed him. That is so not a surprise at all. He's plundered his ship. And he's taken his men and Marin them on a deserted island, any leaves them for dead. It saves them. He is really furious Blackbeard in fact, decides he wants to go after and capture Blackbeard himself, which is as you can imagine an astounding misperception of his own skill sets. Here's this guy who had minor success. His crew never respected him goes. After probably the most successful pirates world history who is much more aggressive and things that somehow he's going to enact revenge, and he's finally living up to the name of his ship for the first on his back in the game. Yeah, he never actually catches Blackbeard the Walli chasing him. He finally becomes a real pirate. He takes thirteen ships. He got violent. He logged his men. He threatened to burn down a whole town and to shoot his own crew, if they surrendered and in the final battle where he was captured he and his men kill eighteen people. So you could say that he had some I guess personal growth. Learn specific lessons learned that. If you're going to do this you have to put on the show, and you've got to actually a. Appear to be someone who is it is worth sprinted. Yes. Abundant eventually has matured into a murderous part. Wait. So he had a romantic idea of what it was like to be somebody who like murders people and takes their stuff. And then he actually ends up like actually murdering people and taking their stuff. Yep. That's horrible. Yeah. He becomes a bad guy and the catch him and they put him on trial. We go to switch the world finally thought he was a pirate like mission accomplished. Yeah. Now, it could be hanged at thirty. And there's actually a transcript of his trial. So do the admitting pirate was he proud? No. He pled not guilty. He said his crew held him on board against his will. And that he wasn't doing any of the piracy. And apparently, this kind of defense is typical Marquette told me pirates usually deny that they're parrots or they rationalize it. Like, there's some good reason that they did this, you know, they were poor sailors or they were badly treated, and it was only fair to start sealing from these big trading companies ships. So to defense work. Did you get off? Now, he went to the gallows in Charleston, South Carolina. There's actually a marker in a park there. I goes and hangs out with parents. And even though he does not seem to have the smallest aptitude for pirating. He's becoming a pirate today in our program. We hear the story of another guy a guy who's alive right now guy today who gets near two pirates. Did it change them? We try to figure that out WBZ Chicago. It's this American life from our glass. Are you going to stay with us? No, we're not using. Glenn highway change denier, he may remember hearing about Rachel and Paul Chandler a few years back there. British couple who've spending their retirement sailing around the world, but I told her two thousand nine in the middle of the night abandoned, Somali pirates boarded the boat with guns kidnapped them for ransom. They were held for months and the smelly Bush with threatened and fed a steady diet of goat liver back in England. Rachel's brother, a guy named Steven Collett was negotiating with pirates. He's been eight months trying to work out a deal mostly with pirate called how Lee if I came to an agreement four hundred forty thousand dollars for each one pulse. Freedom a contract was written up and signed in facts to lease office in Somalia pirates have offices and fax machines. And then the day before Rachel Paul was scheduled to be released the pirates let Stephen talk directly to Paul what we have made arrangements poll to deliver money to the parts by plane. To attend clue Dado tomorrow at eleven o'clock. Yes. Yes. Now, it's the plane can run the game to click you. Then you move say with a Mista Muhammed Aiden tomorrow night in Edyta. Yes. Now here how many Aiden he's the district of Nha. Who lives in the show? And he's not apart. I repeat he is not apart. Yes. He's bookie on our side. He's a good, man. You can trust him. I'm an added guy Stephen mentions. He's the governor of a region in Somalia were Rachel empower held. He's actually American Somali American his born in Mogadishu, but spent half his life in Minneapolis must people. Call him by his nickname TI, Stephen says apart I repeat as not apart. It's actually the question of this story TI took a public stand against piracy work to end piracy in his area. But then ended up in a Belgian prison arrested for piracy and for criminal organization. He was in that prison when the story for Sarah today shows a rerun from two years ago. He denies the charges though. Of course, as you just heard denying your pirate is an old tradition in pirating. So is he innocent. Does. He pirate is colluding with pirates. If he is how does a guy who comes all the way from America with the best of intentions hoping to do the right things end up in this situation. Whatever producers Dana is into it t I used to be just another boring data Minnesota in two thousand eight he was finishing a masters degree in public administration at Minnesota state and starting a small health services company. He lived in three bedroom condo in the suburbs of Minneapolis with his wife shops. Oh and their five sons. He was a regular WalMart shopping football loving homework. Checking father he was also active in the small community in Minneapolis. And he did this thing that do good or experts. Do he raised money from other members of his clan? Send back home tried to improve things back in Somalia, clans, run Somalia. There's no powerful central government there and TI's clan is made up of hundreds of thousands of people in two thousand eight the clan was trying to. Restore order to part of the country. They're from a region called him in head a five thousand square mile patch of sand that hadn't had a functioning government since the early nineties a place with no running water rife with bandits warlords were camel herders wandered, the desert and pirates plundered the sees where you couldn't drive from one town to another because the warring tribes wouldn't allow it. So members of the clan from all over the world gathered in Dubai to come up with a plan to create a government there. T-? I went to that conference. He says he was actually picked to run the meeting and he did such a good job the clan. Elders drafted him to be part of a small team. That would actually move to him in heb for three months, write a constitution and get government started. He's the guy who has trouble saying, no. So he flew to Africa directly from the conference. So we let you go back. You were you couldn't go back to Minneapolis. No, you want St. street to know Samaya because they go back home as we would never come back. So in a way, it was set up. Yeah. It was a setup conscripted if at the end of those three months he done such a good job that the local elders asked him to stay and run the place for a few years. He didn't wanna do it lobbied against it for a week. But his friends finally sat him down and said, you have no choice if any of us had been asked we do it. So he agreed. The appointed mate. That was my. They in my tired life. He saying it was the scariest day in his entire life. That's TI talking to me in January. He's calling me from the prison in Belgium. So it's a little hard to hear. I like like little go. Do you remember calling Trump? So and telling her this news. Actually what I do. I think to be honest, you she's she's what's called the both shooting. The one who works in the house. He says it was hard to bring himself to tell his wife. So he asked his friends to call her figuring. She couldn't say no to them. I do I didn't have the ball. First. He told his wife Shaam, so he'd only on a few months, but now he had to explain to her. Well, his friends did actually that he was gonna stay in Somalia for a few years leaving her with five boys to manage back in Minneapolis. Well, he lived in the lawless country they'd both fled years ago. When asked him what is goals were in Somalia? He said he didn't wanna die first of all by much about here today there. Walkway. My team was you know, to to make this vision the best I can. Mic safe to make new Dennis good. You know, like a lot of the appro- walking. And there's a lot of income on, you know, but it was a dream. I've been talking to TI since December. When I visited him at the prison in Belgium. It's a massive and forboding place with a moat for some reason TI doesn't look like a pirate. He looks like a professor he's six feet tall and a little chubby. He's forty four years old goatee that starting to gray. And since we met he's been calling me from phone in the lounge area of his cellblock, we've spent hours talking about his work in Somalia and his legal case, there's always a TV on in the background. So it can get a little tough to hear. Hey, good evening. How are you doing? Hey, I like talking to TI he smart. He has a good sense of humor. At one point. We're trying to figure out how much he's phone calls cost. He thought they were really expensive of a five so five seventy five minute is the best price for my God. I'm. It's like calling unpack Toco somewhere. No, minus not. Keesing you fire. See look at that. To share to. She turns out, by the way. TI? Overestimated, the calls were much less than that only about a dollar and change overestimating might be a character flaw of his as you'll hear. So here's the story. He told me about how he went into Somalia full of hope and good intentions and ended up in the clink in Belgium. TI's? First priority is governor of him in hab was to hire police and set up a court system. He knew he couldn't make any progress unless there was some security in the area. He heard police impede them. Fifty bucks a month? He told me he didn't pay his small administrative staff salary. I because he wanted to save the little money. He had for the police in the judges made sure they'd say on the side TI was setting up a government from scratch. So it's not like everyone just accepted the new order his first month there. The court heard a land dispute two men claimed to own the same piece of property and the guy who lost the case was pretty unhappy about it. So he had a bunch of relatives with guns surrounded the disputed land TI soldiers showed up and the occupiers. One of my soldier died. TI's men ended up killing three of the occupiers. I'm not proud of getting people. But that was actually the point of the respect that we get that's the bay that fishing became real restrictions after that incident. People started to respect he is new administration. He had thority now he was writing laws, and he was able to enforce them. But it was still pretty scary. Every morning when you wake up, you know, you thinking about how I'm going to die today. If I'm going to bet I'm going to bag with bullet. I might go today which kind. I might go into with suicide. I'm going to with my staff can in me. So that suits and the environment too. You're walking on. What I do daily is to solve the problems for the people whether it's lack of food nece water, that's TI tuck into a New York Times video journalist in two thousand nine a year after he started the government in other see you can measure your success. But this is too much of the success. You can see the people is that you have them feel good. You feel about that? That interview happen because New York Times reporter named Jeffrey Gettleman caught wind of the changes happening in Dotto, and he decided to go see for himself to get there. He had to hire one militia for the start of the journey who handed him off to a second militia who driven the rest of the way into Dotto. That we saw lots of new construction lots of houses with brand new shiny metal roofs, a relatively new school new stores like it was like an oasis of development in the middle of very neglected remote area. Did you feel safer there than you did in your other trips around solu-, I felt pretty safe there? And maybe that was totally ridiculous. But I felt safe there because I trust the TA and he had control like I I've been in small enough. I could kinda tell who was the real deal, and who is a pretender, and he seemed like the real deal. I still had one major problem to tackle pirates. They will more powerful than anyone else. I thought the years at TI was governor two thousand eight until twenty thirteen that's on the piracy epidemic was raging in Somalia. In fact, piracy was so pervasive that it was basically its own industry. One the cost the world economy. Billions each year in twenty ten more than a thousand people were taken hostage. Itsy nobody not the Somali federal government or rich. Western nations had been able to rouse them. TI's region was home to one of the most notorious pirate towns in Somalia a place called Herod Darah TI, set up local governments and other towns in the region. But when he went to Jared Darah, the elders there told him not to bother the pirates controlled everything they even set up a pirate stock exchange there in the building for anyone could go and buy shares in pirate venture, they had more guns and more men and more money than TI did and they weren't gonna listen to him. In April two thousand nine TI says he met with the president of Somalia and told him he needed help fighting the pirates. Luckily, the president had worked to radically piracy himself in the same area in two thousand six and it had worked for a little while the president knew someone who could help TI a guy called Mohammed Ali Hassan. He goes by the nickname f we n- which means big mouth. He was a small businessmen. And also, the godfather of modern Somali piracy f Wayne is the guy who figured out that you could run a piracy business like any other legitimate business by reason capital from investors and then funding piracy ventures on the high seas. Did you have the thought of like why would I hire a guy who's a big pirate to run my anti-piracy campaign actually, actually at that time? He was to be honest with you. I'm not hiding in team. It was he was if he says, so he wasn't wasn't hijacking ships no role. He was he was paced. You have office in that time. He's bringing Pat. Oh, that was his business chart is a leaf that gives you a little buzz when you to it. It's legal in Somalia and pirates apparently to the stuff all day long. What was a Flaine like as a member of the committee? What was he actually doing? New must of those guys especially amendment. He knows allow most of the middle, man. Yes. Yes. Even the kingpin a lot because most of them used to work for him doesn't seem like the greatest idea to hire. One of the most notorious pirates to help U N piracy TI said he didn't have much of a choice and actually f Wayne turn out to be really helpful. This was their plan step one pirate shaming convinced the local imams to start teaching people that piracy is forbidden in the Koran. So the pirates become ostracized step to create an economic incentive. Give the pirates other job opportunities that don't require hijacking and kidnapping like maybe create a market for fish step. Three pirate rehabilitation when they caught the lower level pirates. The soldiers TI sent them to a rehabilitation camp top them new job skills, including how to. Read and write and with the pirate bosses the kingpins TI had one especially attractive incentive to offer them to get them to quit the business immunity, which TI points out only applies to the Somali government. It doesn't mean the US or Britain or Belgium, for instance, couldn't capture them later. But he doesn't mention that part to them. You think I never liked them so high I the money line many light the kingpins. Yes. Yes. Lays too good to get them out of hiding, exactly. You have to lie because. You want to finish one to be your legacy? Twenty twelve pirate attacks on big ships had affectively stopped in all of Malia a lot of that had to do stuff that was happening on the water. Foreign navies were patrolling the ocean and maritime company started putting armed security on their boats and sailing faster and further from the coast. And in him and then head in December twenty twelve TI. I held a press conference where he sat on stage is a bunch of local pirates publicly retired in front of cameras and reporters in return for immunity. It was a huge moment for him. It was good. It was the biggest thing I ever done other than I introduced the peace order and good governors. So that's something. A few months after the press conference t I got an Email out of the blue from a guy called unis Collier. Who's with the film company in Europe? He said they wanted to make a documentary about piracy, and they wanted to talk to TI about how he dealt with the pirates in him in head TI agreed to meet New York for few days to talk about the project the filmmakers put him up at the Trump International hotel and tower right on central park. The first morning there UNICEF as up TI noticed. He was a little, hyper and his clothes were in his Mace's us expecting so TI teases him. You don't like, you know, you are in infinite company. It wasn't fancy. It wasn't fancy. I can't see that. So I talked about you don't at don't press like walking in. I I go okay Monday. I would call you have a good trip. Okay. Thanks so much. Have a good have a nice. I don't know. I guess a nice weekend you're in prison. But yeah, you say that okay. Sometimes I forget he's in prison. Anyway, we got back to the story. A few days later TI says Unis's boss was there. Also, they spent three days together took TI on a helicopter ride around Manhattan and out for nice meals. Eventually Eunice got down to business. He wanted TI enough. Wayne to be consultants on the film. What do you want? We gonna show you as he says, we're gonna pay you. You know, your time. How much are they gonna pay you? We be if the portrait finish on everything finished one hundred dollars each God. That's so much money. Yeah. It's one of east. That TI. Agreed. They had one last meal of the Grand Central Easter bar, the filmmakers asked t I to convince f Wayne to help to and once Wayne was onboard. They don't meet in Europe for a week or they'd get to work seventies. In Europe, two hundred thousand dollars each to consult on a film about pirates pirates who could refuse. TANF Wayne landed in Brussels a month later when they showed their passports. There was something wrong. With Wayne's visa they were escorted to airport. Police my gut feeling TENNIS New mean trouble, really what it is. Yes. So after one hour for that, I came. And you know, interest himself. He says, my name is fun hustle. I'm loose. And I'm here to take them away. He was all res all of it was fake Eunice Collier of the meetings in New York the documentary film about Radicati piracy. It was the Belgian federal police the whole time an elaborate plan to lure f Wayne to Belgium where they could arrest him and prosecute him for the hijacking of a Belgian ship called the Pompeii. The pump was taken in April two thousand nine which was actually just a few months before africaine joined up with TI to fight piracy. The Belgians found Africans DNA on a coffee Cup in the captain's cabin of the Pompeii. They use TI to get to African TI's lawyer says the Belgians weren't after TI at all but in their excitement over catching Wayne, they got carried away unlock TI up to did you did you feel a little like, the the world's worst prank had just been played on you. I feel like cheap. A what? Yeah. Cheap very cheap, cheap could unvetted cheap. Yeah. TI enough Wayne the guys who say they put the pirates out of business in him. And and heb we're both charged with piracy. There's pretty strong evidence against he I the Belgians are saying that when TI started working without pointing at Wayne was still hijacking ships, and I got wrapped up in Athens. Criminal organization would insert himself into the negotiations for hostage releases and used to run a little side hustle. He demand additional money from the hostages families. Tens of thousands of dollars for use of the airport at Dotto, that's extortion. The Belgians claim he extorted money from the families of hostages enforce Pacific. Piracy cases, one of them is the kidnapping of Rachel and Paul Chandler. That's the recording. You heard at the beginning of this story. Rachel's brother, Stephen is on the phone with Paul telling him to trustee. I days of good. You can trust him. He's not apart. I repeat he is not apart. But Stephen told me that wasn't how he actually felt about TI in that moment in reality. I was very skeptical of him and forty was just a. A greedy little faith to be honest. Coming up. Story we hear what actually happened between Stephen and TI the actual recordings of the conversations is trying to get the hostages safety. It isn't pretty that's in a minute which Kabul radio when our program continues. 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The TI was involved in with Stephen Colette trying to arrange for safe passage for his sister in his brother-in-law Rachel and Paul who being held by pirates. Again, here's Dana this point in the negotiation. Stephen had agreed to pay the pirates four hundred forty thousand dollars for Rachel in Paul's release TI wasn't involved in that part of things, but he'd offered to help Stephen with the logistics of getting retail and Paul out of Somalia. T I wrote an Email saying his administration, quote are not part of the pirates and don't deal or an share money, and we are not expecting any. This word is capitalised any payment from the pirates or pollen, Rachel family. The only support we are offering was humanitarian support and to facilitate Paulin, Rachel safe passage. Stephen needed permission to use the airport in Dada, which is far as I can tell just a dusty landing strip a few miles outside town as governor TI, I was the only person who could give planes permission to land there. So Stephen called TI to get that permission. Inside. Did she talk about logistics? And then Stephen asks how much is this gonna cost of because we nothing that. Listen, not gonna chart you. And. Kony? I'm not gonna watch you one of the. Money all any eight. I'm doing this material found out. Kinda hard to hear TI says I'm not going to charge you anything as long as you pay the expenses four days later when Stephen calls TI back. There's been a slight hitch in the plan they were going to get the money to the pirates through guy in Nairobi, but that fell through. So now they need to deliver the ransom money to the pirates at the Dotto airport. TI doesn't like this before the plane was just coming to pick up Rachel and Paul. But now it's also bringing a huge sack of cash, and he says that creates a big security risk. He's worried people might get violent and steal the money hill allow it, but he needs extra security. Go ahead. I'm brings the money to to hear music who almost I rented about one hundred people soldiers in the air force today at the secure the barometer on everything indicates, so including the fee and everything it's gonna be twenty one seven hundred fifty. Can you repeat that place? Okay. Okay. We Stephen lorraine's for about seventy to one hundred soldiers to secure the airport, which will cost even twenty one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. Stephen wasn't expecting that. I know I'm I'm confused about is cost. Muhammad. You told me many times, it would not take any money. I I know it's it's difficult. The family doesn't have this amount of money to spell because we give. Give name. Money one you want. You know, if you'll find out. Okay. This wouldn't doing Davis landing team the ex- police that we put it expensive. We came up. Like. In other countries, we small unsatiable, it's beyond. We have a lot of effort indicates. I appreciate it. But we just do not have we just do not have twenty thousand dollars. So what are you Ted in me? Is you don't have I understand. But how could I saw this? What do you need school to do you need? So what should I do? Can you feel call? Depending on how you hear this call there. Either in the midst of a beer credit stalemate or a small time extortion. This one. Name. I bet we did. Something goes to the of. Menu. Getting for that TI's saying that the number. He gave Stephen the twenty one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. That's the minimum amount needed to cover the expenses for securing the airport. He's not personally getting any of that money. They do some more haggling. And then TI says let me see what I can do a few minutes later. He calls Steven back. He's managed to secure a discount. One seven fifty. And then we say fifty percents. Com. That is gonna be. In. Eighty seven cents. Yeah. You know, we have this money. That have the money, and it's going to take me alone time to get hold of it. To you. This is what he wants is on you'll want that airplane come with the money, not security, and then they hand out everything. That's what he wants. And then the stock in my people on then almost fifty seven people died. Because of this tomorrow, money and vehicle w one closer than anyone head incident. Steven didn't believe the tea I was worried about security. He thought it was a scam. He knew he'd go to he he was in control. It was his field. He do what he liked. We'd spoken to local pilots the Bush points who do sometimes run into these places. A nascent gnome of fee was about one hundred dollars a hundred dollars a normal landing fee. Yes. And he's asking for twenty one thousand seven hundred fifty dollars. That's right. The then he gave us a discount fifth cash. Yeah. He did. The UN released a report that has a lengthy section on TI enough, Wayne and their alleged criminal activity it mirrors, the Belgian case closely, and in it there's a sheet from the Himanen heb regional administration it signed by TI and outlines fees for airlines using the Datta airport. The costs are five dollars per ticket one dollars per sack of outgoing goods fifty dollar security fee for fifty seat flight. Of course, those prices were for normal flights in and out of Dotto carrying regular passengers and bags of chat, not to British hostages nearly half a million dollars, but still given those prices twenty one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars seems a bit extravagant even with the extra security. I went around and around with TI about this fee, and what it was spent on. And it never added up. Maybe he was pocketing part of the cash. Maybe he wasn't maybe the people he had to pay for the use of the airport and security were inflating their price. There's no way to know for sure. Finally, Stephen gave in they agreed on a price of twenty thousand dollars the money was transferred to a him in inhabited ministration account TI assure Stephen it's modest personal account. He's not a dictator. The ransom and rescue operation is set for June. Seventeenth the pilot will take off from Nairobi at dawn with a leather bag containing five bundles of one hundred dollar bills four hundred forty thousand dollars in total. There's one last glitch, which is that the pilot refuses to actually touch down in Dotto because we won't recoup recoup parts. So instead, he'll fly very low to the ground and two security guys on board will Chuck the ransom out the window into the pirates hands a guy called Allie. He's the pirates even has been negotiating with for months. The pilot will know where Ali is because and I'm not joking here. He will Mark the spot with an X on the roof of his car. Now TI had told Stephen he would supply a hundred policemen to provide security at the airport, but when the pilot got into a data's airspace. All he saw was one lonely car with an excellent it's roof parked off the end of the runway the pilot was already on the phone with Stephen says, even called TI and said. So said the never vaguely paid from town. The pilots Ilias can see. Pick-up coming from town. I with a couple of Maine, in fact, oh my God. So his one hundred security men and five armored cars turned out to be to make up truck and two guys will pick up truck driving into goes in and who were late relate the pilot did one low pass and then on the second. They through the ransom out. The window alley called Steven few minutes later to confirm he had the money. The pirates were supposed to spend the next few counting it, and then once they confirmed it was all there they would hand ritual Impala over. So what what happened? So. Wouldn't Quant and that war dissident to we did have suspicions eve night. We is doesn't sound good. And we did try ringing, Andy, but his phone was turned of night. He didn't hear from Elliot again for two days. And then Stephen got a text demanding another one million dollars in ransom. Eventually Stephen got alley on the phone Alley's gone, full Blackbeard and Stevens stiff upper lip is gone. He tries threats alley mocks him. Here's that call Rabl all bosses, but the Somali parts cannot be trusted the you. You cannot be listed. I will tell you. If you don't. Or? All these old. Do you know that pirates are all thieves were all dirty people like come on? Stephen, what did you expect alley laughs at him? Teaching scum at the owners will never ever trust. You a guy when you're ready to the release of Wrightson pool. Cool me you have number even cool fish time between eleven and twelve o'clock you'll time. Talk about the release of rates on pole. I we'll talk about the money. Didn't release Rachel and Paul for another five months. Fast forward to now, the UN and the Belgians Stephen Colette say that those phone calls were TI's demanding money of Stephen that's extortion. He's refusing to let Steven use the Datta airport unless Stephen pays him in amount that far exceeds the normal cost for use of the airport. And they say this is part of a pattern with TI that he did this in at least three other hostage cases up to one hundred twenty thousand dollars in one case TI says he's innocent of all charges of wrongdoing. But two months after we started talking I heard all those recordings of his phone calls. And I realized that some of the things he told me weren't true. For instance, we were talking about the plan for retail and Paul's release, and he told me. He says there's no cost whatsoever. That's not what I heard on that phone. Call was Steven you're saying you didn't ask him for any money. No, no. I I think I think we can clear this up. I wanna play something for you. So the fees and everything, but the the it's going to come to one and one seven hundred fifty him. Plead him that phone call you heard? I he sounded confused. He stuck with his denial fever quality corny. But I never came out money. Will you just I mean, you just heard yourself, right? Ask him for money in that tape. I just played you. I I just done clearly t I told me the twenty one thousand seven hundred fifty dollars was money. The airport owners were demanding not him. But I mean, you can you can see how this would look like extortion. In a way. Expulsion? But before them social. How is it not extortion of much Monica? Explain how. Okay. So he social. I and son. That's what I'm saying. But to me that time I have that much meaning his administration couldn't cover the expenses. And the fact that no security was on duty when the pilot drop the ransom TI explained that when he learned the pilot wasn't gonna land the plane. He decided there was no reason to send police that day. But he says he used evens money five months later when Rachel and Paul were finally released and in a book Rato in Paul wrote about their ordeal. They do describe drive into the airport with TI in a convoy of fifteen Toyotas and three or four trucks mounted with guns. You had to hang up before we were done talking about this. The next time. I reached him was two days later. Let me go back a little bit. This is I never discussed anyone before this one. What I'm saying? Except to. I I call the airports t. And I told them that this is what's going to happen. Tells me he asked the owners of the airport to let Rachel Paul use it for free as a humanitarian gesture, but they said, no, they said, we built an airport we get to charge people use it. So then TI says he went to the regional parliament and ask them to step in. I wasn't able to confirm any of this. By the way, he says they also said no his hands were tied. He had to ask for the twenty one seven fifty. He said actually, the airport owners weren't making much profit for themselves at that price, regardless twenty one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars is the number. He no admits he demanded from Steven actually he didn't he didn't like it. No on on on. Who I knew that? Because if I wear shoes it's going to be saying would we'll bist of. Unfeasible theater. You know, like to me something. Plane to him I explained to him again, and again and then. Explain it to him. It sounds very much as though you're telling him I'm in charge of the airport. And and I talked to my committee and we assessed that it's going to cost you this much. You don't explain it to him the way that you just explained it to me, which is I mean, in the way, you just explained to me you're not responsible for any of the costs. But I did want to screen the way. I explain to you. How come I didn't want? I want to show him that was kind of weak in a win. It shows me that I was weak, and I didn't want to show that I and I'm telling you that I never discussed anyone before except you know, what were you worried about? Why were you worried about looking weak to Stephen? Because what I'm saying is if even find out that these I don't have control anything, then he he wouldn't find out that I don't have a control what I'm saying. I'm the man who says, hey, I couldn't pull him in a way. Yes. I didn't like about that. But I don't control Sefton Attias. And and there's a certain elements that I have. No, I thought it whatsoever. T? I told me he was worried that if Steven or the pirates realized he didn't have as much control over the airport as they thought he did that the deal would fall apart and Rachel in Paul would remain in captivity. So he swallowed a bitter pill and demanded the money from Stephen. Yes. Of course, I lost that walk. But I knew I I I'm gonna win another war. I was feeling very complicated. I was feeding vary in a way. Yes. I'm I'm doing something postive and in a way that I was doing something horrible. And I'm the one who's leaving the message both both sides. He was doing something positive helping to free Rachel and Paul, and he was doing something horrible demanding money from Rachel's, desperate, brother. I should do differently. My intention was very goes on never be a pilot of my life. I if I did some call all if I did something still bid or something that some other person like it. I'm sorry. My intention was good. That's that's what I'm saying. I don't know how to explain other than that. Somali pirates were once just some Ali fishermen, but then in the nineties during the civil war when there was no longer government watched foreign boats sail into their waters scoop up their fish and leave unpunished so they decided to do something about it initially the fishermen just wanted to scare the legal boats away. But then some of them started charging those boats of fine finds turned into ransoms and some Ali piracy was born in a semi lawless state like some Olea without a functioning government. Everything is up. Rationalization? One man's fine is another man's ransom or TI's case one man's airport fee is another man's extortion. I think it's possible that TI. Sincerely believes he was doing the right thing. Randall this past a former US diplomat who worked in Somalia and his followed it closely for years. She didn't want me to use her name, but she dealt with TI when he was an dot O, and she's worked with lots of people in Somalia liked TI people who spent years in the US, and then return to work in Somalia. She says people like TI who've lived outside Smalley for years. They often have a hard time when they return she called them in between people they come of age living in the US. Learn how the country runs here. And then they go back and they can't play the US game one hundred percent, but they also can't play the Somali game one hundred percent and they get in trouble. She said TI probably went to him and in head with the best of intentions, but she said quote with no finances to support government functions and one of the most dangerous security situations anywhere in the world TI and others have been drawn into that murky place where they believe that they have no choice, but to find combinations with those who are engaged in corrupt or criminal practices with their western backgrounds. They can't claim that they don't understand what constitutes criminal behavior. She told me TI meddled in too many things he should have stayed out of. And he wasn't savvy enough to protect himself to add layers of deniability have someone else handle those phone negotiations put some distance between himself and the criminals not that. She was advocating these things for him or anyone else. And she wanted me to make clear that she does not condone piracy. But that was her theory. I put this to TI he agreed that he should have protected himself better. Basically the moral of what happened to me? So I learned my lesson which is that you have to protect yourself. Whatever it takes do you think you were a little naive? Yes. I was. That's what I said. Right. I say that wasn't if I get it away. Because I didn't think about the clinical I posted. We we got in Bedford tool that everybody was helping. So that's why. Yeah, I wasn't eve. TI's case is on appeal right now, the piracy charges were dropped for lack of evidence. But he was convicted of being involved in a criminal organization of pirates. If he loses the appeal he could spend the next six years in prison if he wins he could get out in June. Once he's out. He says we'll go back to Minneapolis take a pause his kids. But after that he might return to small Lia and run for president. Dan Chavez since reverse broadcast this story in twenty seventeen TI's appeal did not work out. How we wanted. Here's release from prison in twenty seventeen after serving four years in two months, he returned to Minnesota to be with his family. But then after just six months, he returned to Somalia he's there now and is running for president of one of the states there. To see Yoho. So today, we've heard two stories about how when you close to pirates people start thinking that you're one of them that you're living by pirate rules. So we thought it would close today's program with this story of somebody who got involved with pirates, and then went on to remake the roles remake the rules of piracy here Stephanie FU, so here's a fact, I learned recently that I love the most powerful pirate of all time was a woman. Her name was chang- Isao. She makes the other pirates look like amatuers. She makes Blackbeard look like an amateur. Absolutely. She had way more money. She had a bigger fleet. She pirated for longer, and she was more successful. That's Laura up Duncombe who wrote about Chinese owner book pirate women the princesses prostitutes. And privateers who ruled the seven seas sow was Chinese. She was working on a floating brothel in the early eighteen hundreds when a pie. Britt Chenji propose marriage tour. We don't know much about their love story. So this is a bit of legend. But supposedly at first Cheney sow turned him down and tried to claw his eyes out. Then after some thought she agreed that she would marry him. But only if you would give her half of his fleet and his treasure and he went along with it. Any husband was a pretty big deal already. But once they got married. The two of them got to work uniting warring pirate factions into one pirate monopoly when her husband died. Cheng Sao took over as leader of the pirate empire and grew it to the largest pirate fleet in history. Which some members of our staff have insisted I mentioned is apparently a very Kalisa move. I don't know. I don't watch game of thrones. Anyway, Blackbeard had maybe four ships with pirates, but Chinese how anywhere from fifty to seventy thousand pirates with a around two thousand ships all told this is larger than many legitimate navies of the time periods, certainly the Chinese navy and just one year eighteen o eight they destroyed half of the Chinese navy's entire fleet sixty three out of a hundred and thirty five ships having seventy thousand employees. That's as big as Exxon Mobil, so Jenny sow ran it like a corporation. She had. Offices on shore where she managed her counts. And she came up with a whole new way of making tons of money. A protection racket where salt ships and rich coastal cities paid regular taxes to the pirates. If you didn't pay you got pillaged, it was like the seafaring, mafia, and we're other pirates not doing that. That was really a kind of a chimney so innovation one of her many. How old was she when she was doing all of this. So she was thirty two when she took command. I don't know what I'm doing with my life. Another innovation of Chinese sow the rules on Herships. We know about these from book written at the time in eighteen thirty most captains had rules on their ships. Of course, by her punishments were particularly extreme for instance, rule number one, don't go eight wall. So anyone goes on shore without Cheney sows permission? They get their ears slit if they do it again, they're suffered death. They're they're killed real number two. Don't steel company treasure. Each crew could keep twenty percent of the Budi at plundered the rest went into the company treasure hold and the punishment for taking more again death. There's a pretty consistent theme here. Yeah. Lot lots of death. You know, you you disobey Chinky sow death is in your future. But the most famous rule in her employee. Handbook is the one Laura thinks no other pirate. Had they could not rape their female captives the punishment. You guessed it death immediate death. Chevy's out ran this operation solo for three years. She evaded Chinese authorities until finally China had lost so much money and so much control of its waters that they resorted to something they really hated doing. They asked other countries for help England and Portugal loan the Chinese government ships and with the ships. They come after her and trap her in a bay. They finally have her where they want her. So they have her surrounded people from all over Chinese government officials are coming to witness the end of this great pirate. Like, there's no way she's getting out of this. And they're setting up lawn chairs on the deck, basically to to watch her defeat. They fire on her for eight days, but they can't sink her. Finally, they send out fireboats flaming boats full of explosives to her fleet. But then the wind changes the fireboats. I'm right back towards the government ships and damaged them instead Jenny sow gets away. But she decided she couldn't keep this up forever. So she went to Chinese leaders to negotiate a surrender. She doctorship and walked directly into the governor general's headquarters onshore they're expecting, you know, pirate Queen armed to the teeth with a full complement of like burly bodyguards, come ITO. She's terrifying. Figure and in walks. This, you know, thirty five year old woman with some wives and some children and must have taken them completely by surprise. And I think it gave her the upper hand in the negotiations, and she got an incredible deal that amounted to basically a retirement package for her and her employee's. She got to keep her plunder secured pardons for almost all of her pirates. But she also secured government payouts for her and her pirates to transition into civilian life and spots for some of them in the Chinese navy as part of this Chaney sow wrote a letter. Of surrender to the Chinese government. Laura. Read part of it for me, originally, we were good people, but we became pirates for a variety of reasons because some of us were not careful in making friends, we fell into a bad situation became robbers other of us were unable to secure livelihood or captured and forced into piracy. Therefore, we violated the laws of the empire and destroyed the merchants this was unavoidable. I love how the I love this was unavoidable. Like, yes, like, I I would say almost star cast it because it's clear she holds all the power, and she does not need to do this. Laura says wherever there was piracy. There were women pirates. They spent hundreds of years across the globe. It was an unusually progressive workplace for the time. It's the funny thing about piracy it. Oh, it's you're not going to see a woman could not expect to rise to the ranks where they were competing with men and commanding men in most legitimate societies. And yet we see it over and over again in piracy that these women just sort of excelled, and I I like to think of the stakes were a little bit higher. If they had to go back on land to be gentle lady's sitting in parlors or doing whatever work was available to women of these time periods. They knew what was what was in store for them if they were unsuccessful. So I think they it just made them fight harder work harder. That sounds very familiar. Stephanie. Alone sailing by the stores across the says. With no as kids aids. The. Verde men who. What bug? Stay by Stephanie FU, our staff staffer the show includes Baker Susan Burton Bencun that we chased in Shiva's Sean Cole new drumming. Seth man. Jonathan heave are Robin semi-in Christmas, Attala material, Diane. Woo but action help from Viva Cornfeld senior producer for today shows Brian read, especially thanks today to Laura Heaton, Clara, Moses Ogden. Michael, Scott, more, John Steed, oceans beyond piracy, Marcus Rediker. Diane Murray, Mark Hanna this joined that you heard at the top of the program is the author of pirates Ness and the rise of the British empire. Fifteen seventy to seventeen forty our website this American life dot org. This American life is public radio stations by PR X, the public radio exchange sport for this. American. Life comes from air table. Their table is the all in one cooperation platform used by creative teams that companies like Atlantic records, Conde nast entertainment, and we work to manage their work their way, visit era table dot com slash American special offer. Eligible to this American life listeners. They says always programs co co-founder, Mr. Tori, mount t you know, he does me all the time the radio show keep calling him calling him always with the same message. We cannot work for this guy. I'm IRA glass back next week with more stories this American life. Next week on the podcast of this American life in the nearly five years since policeman shot Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri about half a dozen people connected to the protests and aftermath have turned up dead, Johnny Cobb traveled Ferguson where you know, like nobody wants to believe in a conspiracy. What are you supposed to believe when in the past so many awful other things have turned out to be true conspiracy theories seemed to be everywhere these days all around us? So when is it right to connect the dots? This next week on the podcast, the public radio station.

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