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Piracy Oddities: When I think about modern piracy I think of the awful stuff, that makes you feel guilty about being interested in piracy: mafias and triads hijacking ships and "making the crew walk the plank" as Cryptonomicon put it. But the ICC CCS weekly piracy report only has a few penny-ante incidents a week, mostly pirates sneaking on board and stealing ship's stores.

If you read between the lines ("Coast near Aceh is particularly risky for hijackings") you see a glimpse of more dangerous incidents that don't get reported or don't show up on the weekly report they publish to gratify our weird voyeuristic tendencies. A while back I read a book called Dangerous Waters which painted a picture somewhere in between, of an East Asian pirate threat that was ever-present and chronic but not with many resources behind it, and easy to foil in most cases if you took safety precautions. Where does the truth lie?

I bring this up because there's a note on the piracy report page that I noticed when I went to fix its Automat feed by rewriting the scraper in Beautiful Soup 2.0:

After Tsunami there were no incidents of any kind in the Malacca Straits for two months. However, attacks have resumed since 28.02.2005. In the last four weeks there have been three serious attacks of Kidnapping the crew for ransom in Malacca straits. Heavily armed pirates have boarded ships and seized the master and one or two crew members and taken them ashore. Pirates have not stolen any property and sole aim has been to kidnap the crew.

Did the tsunami reboot the Indonesian piracy industry, giving them a chance to come up with more agressive and dangerous strategies? What's going on?

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