Monday, 28 June 2010

Pirate cook smuggled AK47s for MV RIM’s crew before shootout

The singular saga of the MV RIM continues with new startling developments: reports now say that a cook from among the gang of pirates secretly helped the crew to kill their captors and escape with the ship. Ahmed, the pirate cook, may be now on the run, his whereabouts unknown.

Ahmed smuggled food for the crew as the situation slowly worsened on the RIM after ransom negotiations broke down, AP reports. He also brought them a SIM card from ashore so that they could talk to their families. When the frustrated pirate gang started discussing harvesting the terrified crew’s organs for cash, he smuggled in guns for the crew to defend themselves. The hostages then killed the pirates, started the RIM’s engines and escaped.

The remarkable story became known after 36 year old Romanian AB Virgil Teofil Cretu was interviewed in Costanta on his return home. Cretu says that although the pirates gave food and water to the crew for the first two months, rations were stopped as negotiations for ransom were bogged down. The crew, mainly Syrians, drank rainwater and cooked rice in seawater, until Ahmed started smuggling in meagre quantities of food. He also brought in a SIM card so that the crew could talk to their families back home.

Meanwhile, as owners and managers refused to pay any ransom, the ship and crew was ‘bought’ and ‘sold’ to other pirate gangs, with the crew hostage: sometimes by an armed pirate guard just 13 years old.

Four months after the hijack, on June 2, Ahmed told the crew that the pirates had decided to kill them and harvest their organs to make money. He then smuggled in three AK 47’s for the crew. Cretu, who has had compulsory army training in Romania and was wounded in the RIM gunfight, said at the interview, “All hell broke loose. There were six pirates guarding us. We started shooting. I shot like mad. The pirates were taken by surprise. They opened fire, shot each other also by mistake; this lasted for about 45 minutes. We annihilated them pretty quickly. Some we threw overboard, to the sharks. It was like being in a commando fight”

Cretu says that the Syrian crew nicknamed him Rambo after the attack, when the crew started the ship’s engines and sailed out of the pirate lair. One pirate hiding in a cabin jumped overboard when he saw that the ship was moving; other pirates chased the RIM in a speedboat, closing in as the RIM’s engines failed. Thankfully for the crew, an EU helicopter arrived in the nick of time. The crew and Ahmed were taken to the Dutch warship Johan de Witt; today, the Dutch authorities refuse to divulge any details of where Ahmed was taken later.

“In my mind, cook Ahmed was an angel sent by God,” says Cretu. “Without his intervention, without his courage, we would have been dead.”

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