BRUGES — Leave it to the Belgians to trap an alleged retired pirate lord with the lure of stardom.

Mohamed Abdi Hassan, also known as Afweyne, was implicated in the seizure of a number of commercial vessels, including the Belgian-flagged MV Pompei in 2009 and Ukrainian and Saudi ships in 2008 (one of  which was carrying a cargo of refurbished Soviet-era tanks).

Belgian authorities arrested Abdi Hassan earlier this month as he got off his flight in Brussels. Also detained was an alleged accomplice.

“These are significant arrests and the result of extremely hard and thorough work by Belgian authorities,” said Pierre St. Hilaire, head of Interpol’s Maritime Security unit, in a prepared statement.

Interpol had issued a “red notice” — basically an international all-points bulletin — for Abdi Hassan and other pirates as part of a response to maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.

 “Interpol is ready to provide whatever support required by Belgium in their prosecution of these individuals, and also to other countries in their ongoing investigations into the organized crime networks behind maritime piracy,” St. Hilaire said.
 Abdi Hassan announced his retirement from the pirate world in January. The “hard and thorough work” involved in capturing him consisted of enticing him onto Belgian soil to ink a movie deal, according to media accounts. It was to be a film about the Somali piracy scene — think of it as “Captain Phillips” seen from the other side — and Abdi Hassan was promised role as a consultant.

St. Hilaire said the arrests should serve as a ‘warning shot across the bows’ for other maritime piracy suspects, especially the leaders and organizers of the piracy networks.

 On a related note, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in July upheld the conviction of Mohammad Saaili Shibin for his role in the 2010 capture of the German Marid Marguerite and the American Quest in 2011. Below is a copy of the appeals ruling.