Jay Bahadur is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and author of Deadly Waters, a book about Somali piracy. When the Somali pirates exploded into the pages of the international news in late 2008, Jay quit his market research job and packed his bags, hopping on a series of five flights into Somalia on a lone quest to meet some present-day buccaneers. He spent the next six weeks in Garowe—the capital of the autonomous region of Puntland—a city at the heart of the pirates’ tribal homeland, conducting research with the journalist son of Puntland’s newly-elected President. The background stories, gossip, family ties, backroom political dealings, and daily impressions of life to which he was privy are simply not things that can be perceived by a reporter who flies in to take some snapshots of the gang behind the latest tanker hijacking. For a foreigner, his access to the region is truly unique.
Jay made a return to Puntland in June 2009, and in December interviewed maritime insurers and lawyers in London, met former hostages in Romania, and had a final tête-a-tête with the pirates in Kenya’s overcrowded prisons.