Somali pirate talks: “We consider ourselves heroes running away from poverty.”

No doubt you’ve already heard about all the trouble on the high seas off Somalia’s coast. Armed-to-the-teeth pirates have been boarding ships and demanding hefty ransoms from their owners, which are often paid in full for the ship’s return.

The Guardian recently allowed one Somali pirate named Asad Abdulahi to tell his story, and the results were quite interesting. He says that he began hijacking fishing boats in 1998, and that the first ship he and his buddies captured netted them $300,000. (Count me in!)

But unsurprisingly, the gig is not without its danger. Says Adbulahi: “Sometimes when we are going to hijack a ship we face rough winds, and some of us get sick and some die.” (Count me out!)

He also offers a couple tips for all you would-be pirates out there, saying, “We give priority to ships from Europe because we get bigger ransoms. To get their attention we shoot near the ship. If it does not stop we use a rope ladder to get on board… After checking the cargo we ask the captain to phone the owner and say that [we] have seized the ship and will keep it until the ransom is paid.”

So how are some pirates justifying this practice? By calling themselves “heroes running away from poverty.” Adbulahi also says he likes to think of the piracy not as a criminal act but as a sort of road tax. “We will not stop until we have a central government that can control our sea,” he says.

Whole thing here. More from Gadling on pirates here.