**The pirate who fell into a movie trap: Kingpin Mohamed ‘Big Mouth’ Abdi Hassan arrested in Belgium after being tricked into thinking he was going to appear in a documentary **
During a decade spent terrorising the high seas, Mohamed Abdi Hassan is alleged to have hijacked, kidnapped and ransomed with impunity, with the mere mention of the Somali pirate widely known by his nickname “Big Mouth” inspiring fear among seafarers. But in the end, it appears it was not his big mouth which caused Hassan’s downfall: it was his big head.
When he touched down in Brussels airport on Saturday with an alleged accomplice named Tiiceey, Hassan thought he would be whisked off to meet documentary film producers keen to draw on his swashbuckling experiences for a project based on his life.
But it was all a ruse: prosecutors seeking justice for the hijacking of a Belgian dredger in 2009 had set the whole scenario up.
Fearing that an international arrest warrant for the hijacking and kidnapping of The Pompeii’s nine crew would be ignored by the Somali government, Belgian authorities decided to try a different approach.
Undercover agents contacted Tiiceey in the guise of film-makers and asked him to put them in touch with Hassan. After months of persuasion, Big Mouth – “Afweyne” in Somali – was won over with the promise of a starring role as chief adviser.
“After patiently starting a relationship of trust with Tiiceey, and through him with Afweyne, which took several months, both were prepared to participate in this project,” federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle said.
As soon as the pair disembarked from their flight from Kenya, they were arrested and sent to Bruges, where they will face charges of kidnapping and membership of a criminal organisation. “Too often, these people remain beyond reach while they let others do the dirty work,” Mr Delmulle said. “(He’s) one of the most important and infamous kingpin pirate leaders, responsible for the hijacking of dozens of commercial vessels from 2008 to 2013.”
Way to go Belgium!