In 2012 American journalist Michael Scott Moore (who wrote a great history of surfing, Sweetness and Blood) was kidnapped by Somali pirates and held for $20 million ransom. As soon as I started reading his enthralling account of the 977-day ordeal, my heart began to race.
One night in late February, a month after my capture, the guards hauled me in a Land Rover, alone, to a remote part of the bush to meet the pirate kingpin. I had heard of Garfanji but never seen a picture. He was a powerful criminal, with a reputation for cruelty as well as kindness to his own men.
The person I met in the bush that night seemed groggy and dull-witted; he sat cross-legged in the dust and spoke in a high, almost childish voice. He dialled a private American negotiator on his softly glowing smartphone.
The negotiator said, "The man who just handed you the phone is Mohammed Garfanji," and my blood felt just like ice water. "They aren't beating you or anything like that, are they?" he asked.
"No," I said, although one boss, Ali Duulaay, had beaten me several times. "Not systematically," is what I meant.
"My 977 days held hostage by Somali pirates" [theguardian.com]