1. Somalia $0.414 Billion ($414 Million)

  2. Black Market Crime in Somalia

Somalia Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Somalia’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol, black market smuggling of charcoal across Africa causes losses up to $9 Billion a year across the continent, with governments losing at least $1.9 Billion in tax revenue. The value of the illegal charcoal trade in Africa is reportedly three times the amount of the continent’s illegal drug trade.

Security and intelligence agencies believe that terrorist groups, militias and organized crime syndicates earn up to $289 Million from the illegal charcoal sale. By comparison, the groups make about $12 Million a year from black market ivory sales.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group based in Somalia, is believed to earn between $38 Million to $68 Million  from black market charcoal sales and taxation per year.

Source: Hannah McNeish, “$213bn illegal wildlife and charcoal trade ‘funding global terror groups’,” Guardian, June 24, 2014.

According to a report released by Interpol, the United Nations and the World Bank, the average ransom payment received by pirates in Somalia between 2005 and 2012 was $2.7 Million. The total haul in ransom payments made to the pirates during that time period was estimated to be between $339 Million and $413 Million.

The average pirate working on the crew was paid between $30,000 to $75,000 per person. If the pirate was the first to board a ship, or brought their own ladder or weapon, then the pirate would receive a $10,000 bonus.

(More income from the underground economy.)

Operating costs such as food was also deducted from the pirates total payment. When a pirate used a mobile phone while at sea, the rate for the airtime was $20.

Many of the pirate crews had outside investors who would help finance the attack. According to the study, a typical pirate attack had three to five investors.

(Additional money laundering cases.)

Source:  “Somali piracy: More sophisticated than you though,” Economist, November 2, 2013.

According to the Elephant Action League, the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab funds up to 40 percent of their operations with the proceeds from ivory trafficking.

The group was responsible for the September 2013 attack on a Kenyan mall in September 2013.

Ivory trafficking across Africa contributed to the deaths of over 30,000 elephants in 2012. The biggest global market for ivory is in China, where a kilogram of ivory can sell for around $3,000 a kilo.

Poachers who kill the elephant in Africa earn between $50 to $100 per kilogram for the ivory.

(Prices of endangered species on the black market.)

Source:  Catruna Stewart, “Illegal ivory trade funds al-Shabaab’s terrorist attacks,” Independent, October 6, 2013.


According to media reports, the cost to hire a private hostage negotiator to negotiate a ransom payment with Somali kidnappers is roughly $2,000 per day. The fee does not include the negotiated ransom payment.

The fee was disclosed in an article about two individuals who were held hostage in Somali in 2008. The hostage takers originally demanded $3 Million in ransom to release the two individuals. After discussions with the private negotiator, the eventual ransom payment was $600,000.

(All security threats from kidnapping and ransom.)

Source:  Chris Purdy, “Canadian kidnap victim reveals details of ordeal,” Province, August 19, 2013.

The Al-Qaeda cell in Somalia is reportedly generating between $200,000 to $600,000 a month in revenue from the trafficking of ivory, according to Los Angeles based advocacy group Elephant Action League.

Wildlife officials in Kenya have also stated that militants are trafficking ivory to raise revenue.

(Endangered animals prices on the black market.)

Source:  Tristan McConnell, “Elephant tusks: the new blood diamonds,” Global Post, July 18, 2013.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were 48 pirate attacks in Indonesia in the first six months of 2013.

Nigeria had 22 pirate attacks, up from the 6 attacks in all of 2011.

Pirates reportedly attacked 4 ships off the coast of Somalia, compared to the 125 attacks in 2011.

In 2012, sea piracy activities off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea costs shipping companies up to $2 Billion.

Source:  Associated Press, “Piracy watchdog reports worrying surge in attacks, kidnapping, armed robbery in Gulf of Guinea,” Washington Post, July 15, 2013.

According to statistics collected by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), there were 33 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria in 2010. In 2012, the number of attacks increased to 58.

Shipping security analysts state that the number of pirate attacks are under-reported. According to security consultants, at least one pirate attack is taking place each day, with the forecast showing that up to 2 may occur in 2013.

The number of pirate attacks off the coast of Nigeria comes as the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia decreased in 2012. Somali pirates attacked 75 vessels in 2012. In the first five months of 2013, only 1 attack has been registered by the IMB.

Due to its developed oil industry, experts believe that pirates in Nigeria are able to make in 10 days what pirates in Somalia make in 10 months.

Source:  Joe Bavier, “INSIGHT-Nigerian pirate gangs extend reach off West Africa,” Reuters, May 29, 2013.

In the first three months of 2013, there were 66 reported attacks by sea pirates around the world. The number of attacks in the first quarter of 2013 was down 35 percent from the 102 attacks during the first quarter of 2012.

Between January to March 2013, there were 5 attacks in Somalia, down from 36 cases in 2012.

In the Gulf Region, there were a reported 15 pirate attacks and 3 hijackings during the first quarter of 2013.

In Nigeria, there were 11 pirate attacks in the first three months of 2013.

Source:  Associated Press, “World Sea Piracy Down 35 Percent in First Quarter,” ABC News, April 15, 2013.

Sea piracy off the coast of Somalia was estimated to have cost the global economy between $5.7 Billion to $6.1 Billion in 2012. The total economic costs were 12.5 percent lower than 2011.

A portion of the decrease was attributed to the increased security presence in the area. The costs to arm guards travelling on ships increased by nearly 80 percent and was costing the shipping industry between $1.15 Billion to $1.53 Billion.  The rise in private security led to the decrease in international military operations, whose costs fell 14 percent to $1.09 Billion.

The amont of ransom paid out to pirates in Somalia also decreased in 2012. The Somali Pirates were estimated to have received $31.75 Million in ransom payments in 2012, compared to $159.62 Million the year before.

Source:  Reuters, “Global cost of Somali piracy down as higher security deters attacks,” Yahoo News, April 9, 2013.

There were a total of 297 pirate attacks that took place around the world in 2012, according to statistics collected by the International Maritime Bureau. 28 ship vessels were hijacked and 585 crew members were taken hostage and held for ransom during the year. 6 people were killed during the year.

Sea piracy off the coast of Somalia decreased to 75 pirate attacks, compared to 237 in 2011. Somali pirates were able to hijack 14 ships in 2012, compared to the 28 that they held for ransom the year before.

(Additional kidnap for ransom statistics.)

In 2011, there were 439 reported pirate attacks around the world.

Source:  Associated Press, “World Sea Piracy Falls to Five-Year Low in 2012,” ABC News, January 16, 2013.