How Somali pirates received ransom, freed MV Abdullah

Crew members of the hostage ship on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr.Collected

Bangladeshi ship MV Abdullah has been freed along with its 23 crew members, around 32 days after it was held hostage by Somali pirates from the Indian Ocean. 

The pirates left the ship at 12:08 am (Somalia time) on Sunday. Later, it left the coast of Somalia for the Al Hamriya Port of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), being escorted by two warships. 

The release came following a successful handover of ransom from the Ship’s owning company, KSRM Group, to the pirates. 

A crew member, who witnessed the payment from the deck, shared the experience with his family members. He said a ransom-filled bag was airdropped in the sea from a plane and the pirates picked it up  from the water. 

The ship was freed along with the crew members after eight hours of the payment, he added.  

A family member of another crew member said before the payment, the pirates made the crew members stand in a line on the deck and aimed their guns at their backs. The hostages were instructed from the plane to raise their hands to confirm their well-being and the ransom was airdropped following the confirmation.  

However, the owning company did not disclose anything about the amount of ransom. 

The pirates received the ransom on Saturday afternoon, but they did not leave the ship immediately. It seems they waited until late at night to disembark from the ship, likely to evade detection.

A warship of the European Union (EU) was deployed at a distance during the payment of ransom, while the Somali police force were patrolling on the shore. 

Shahriar Jahan, the deputy managing director of KSRM Group, confirmed the ship's release at 3:30 am on Sunday, saying the ship already departed the Somalia coast with the guard of warships. 

He, however, refrained from making any comment on the ransom. 

Captain Anam Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers Association, said the process of handing over the ransom begins after reaching a negotiation with the pirates. It needs to send the ransom to the pirates through planes as they do not free the crew members untill receiving dollars in cash. 

He noted that there are small aircrafts in the African area that are capable of flying at low altitudes for such transactions.