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Blog - Somalis and Tolerance | Radio Free Mike


Second Pirate Arrested

A second suspect in my case has been arrested, this time in Minnesota, where he was living. If you want a sense of my opinion about Somali immigration to the United States, you can read a piece I wrote last year for the Toronto Globe & Mail, or my recent long investigative feature about a bomb plot, and a federal trial, in Kansas. The only comment I want to make now about the arrest concerns a paragraph that keeps turning up in various news reports:

In May 2012, the pirates released a video, showing the journalist in an undisclosed location with a prayer shawl over his head, surrounded by masked kidnappers who pointed a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade at him.

The picture attached to this post is a frame grab from the May 2012 video. Anyone can see I’m not wearing a damn prayer shawl. That’s a thin, pink, flowered blanket, and you can read about it in my book.

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One Pirate Arrested

A ranking Somali pirate guard was indicted last week in my case.

“When asked about the arrest of Mr. Tahlil, Mr. Moore replied, ‘I’m not as happy as you might imagine that he’s in jail.’”

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Freedom Anniversary, 2018

Four years ago this morning, I woke up in a filthy house in central Somalia, feeling weak and miserable. I’d been captive for two and a half years and had no reason to think my status would change. My pirate guards fed me a sullen porridge of beans, the way you might feed a goat or a horse, and a few hours later they put me on the phone with a negotiator. The good man had no time to tell me a thing before one pirate grabbed the phone from my fingers — “Proof of life, only!” — and ended the call.

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Michael Scott Moore is a journalist and a novelist, author of a comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, as well as a travel book about surfing, Sweetness and Blood, which was named a best book of 2010 by The Economist. He’s won Fulbright, Logan, and Pulitzer Center grants for his nonfiction, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship for his fiction.

He worked for several years as an editor and writer at Spiegel Online in Berlin. He was kidnapped in early 2012 on a reporting trip to Somalia and held hostage by pirates for 32 months. The Desert and the Sea, a memoir about that ordeal, is out now from HarperCollins.

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Speaking Events


Lucinda Blumenfeld

Lucinda Literary Speakers Bureau

November 01, 2019

Mid-Continent Public Library
Story Center Speaker Series
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Woodneath Library Center
8900 NE Flintlock Drive
Kansas City, MO

February 20, 2020

European Hansemuseum Lübeck
Part of a special series on pirates
in German
An der Untertrave 1
Lübeck, Germany

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My review of Ingrid Betancourt's first novel, The Blue Line, is up at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

While I was in Somalia a man called Geoff Carter wrote about a picture of Indian men surfing on stand-up boards around 1800 off Chennai, which altered the known history of surfing a bit, even though the picture was hiding in plain sight at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The men from the Naham 3 are all friends of mine — a crew of 26 sailors from southeast Asia who worked on a tuna long-liner flagged in Oman but owned by a company in Taiwan, which abandoned them after Somali pirates hijacked the ship in 2012.

A version of what happened in Somalia is available as a Long Read at The Guardian, and, in somewhat shorter form, for German readers, in Der Spiegel. It’s not even near complete. Enormous parts of the story have been left untold.



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